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Centenary Series — Volume 11 



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Jackson, Mississippi 

Printed for the Society 




Introductory Note . . 3 

Mississippi, Centennial Poem — by Mrs. Dunbar Rowland 5 

Col. R. A. Pinson, by /. G. Deupree ^_ 9 

The Noxubee Squadron of the First Mississippi Cavalry, 
C S. A., 1861-1865, by /. G. Deupree ._ 12 

Did DeSoto Discover the Mississippi River in Tunica 
County, Miss., by Dunbar Rowland ' 144 

DeSoto at Chickasaw Bluffs, by Judge J, P. Young 149 

A Second Chapter Concerning the Discovery of the Missis- 
sippi River by DeSoto, in Tunica County, Miss., by 
Dr. Dunbar Rozvland 158 


fv War and Reconstruction in Mississippi, 1863-1890, by 

I J. S, McNeily 165 

\ An Incident of the Battle cf Munfordville, Ky., by E. T. 

I Sykes - 536 

The Eleventh Mississippi Regiment at Gettysburg, by 
I Batxer McFarland 549 

Index 569 




This volume of the Publications contains nionographs of very- 
real interest to the student of Mississippi history. Captain J. S. 
McNeily, whose ready and accurate pen has cYiarmed and in- 
structed a generation of intelligent and patriotic Mississippians, 
as the brilliant editor of the Vicksburg Herald and as an able and 
accurate historian, completes in this volume a monumental work 
on Reconstruction. . Dr. J. G. Deupree, the beloved and honored 
educator under whose instruction many of the best men of 
Mississippi received their literary training, has contributed a 
valuable and interesting paper dealing with the history of the 
gallant command of which he was a member. Two other cul- 
tured Confederate veterans have papers in the volume. Judge 
Baxter McFarland, the learned lawyer, gallant soldier, upright 
judge and stainless gentleman, offers to military annals tlie his- 
tory of the famous Eleventh Mississippi Regiment at Gettysburg. 
Col. E. T. Sykes, the Nestor of the Mississippi bar in active 
practice, the brave soldier and friend of Edward Cary Walthall, 
gives the public a paper of value and interest. The Mississippi 
Centennial Poem by Mrs. Dunbar Rowland, which is given the 
place of honor in the volume, is worthy of the theme and has 
been well received. Tlie discussion between Judge J. P. Young 
of Memphis and the Editor seems to be convincing that DeSoto 
discovered the Mississippi River in Tunica County, Mississippi, 
thus settling an interesting historical question. It is with pride 
and pleasure that the Editor offers this volume to an intelligent. 
patriotic and discriminating public. 

Dunbar Rowland. 

Department of Archives and History, 

Jackson, Mississippi, December 15, 1917. 


Centennial Poem 

Kot«.— "Hiis po«m has receive*! the favorable criticism pf Dr. John ErakJne. 
Professor of English of Oohunbia University of New York City, who con- 
gratulated the author upon the composition. . 

O State of mine ! what golden wealth of deeds 
Has placed the fair corona 'round thy brow! 

What valiant blow, dealt with Arthurian art. 
Has m^de thee victor of the tourney now! 

Yea, much hast thou of which the tongue might boast: 
Thy faith untouched by any doubts or fears. 

Thy children eager from thy presses full 

To tread a glowing measure through the years. 

Thy valor, ever-blooming, stars the land 
As fair as in its dazzling, primal glow, 

When but a fragment of the nation's strength 
In Freedom's name thy legion met the foe; 

As fierce as when for honor's sake it flamed 
So high that love fraternal paled before 

Its burning heat, bequeathing history 

A face with look that Hampden's ever wore. 

For ev'ry failure thou hast had thy palms; 

For ev'ry cruel rent and stain that mar 
Thy garment's loveliness, ten thousand marks 

Of honor thy fair vesture braid and star. 

6 Mississippi 

For cv'ry tongue that shames thee with its guile 
Ten thousand Hps speak true and golden word. 

And clean hands lay upon thy altars gifts 
That keep thy temple pure, thy spirit stirred. 

Yet this might not have been thy history 
Had*st thou not claimed a high, heroic day 

From whose unfailing sources thou could'st draw 
A timely strength when tested in the fray. 

Since distant day, earth's boldest, bravest hearts. 
Impelled by story of thy wondrous strand. 

Have sought thy ports, leaving on thy first page 
The jeweled impress of an ordered land. 

And jealous kings have counted thee a prize 
Well worthy of long tilt of gain and loss. 

While men saw in thy wilding grove and vale. 
Site only for sv/eet Freedom and the Cross. 

Yea, all the burning sweat and bitter stress 
Of thy stern pioneers in fearsome time. 

And ev*ry crimson drop for honor shed 

Serve but to make more fair thy glowing prime ; 

More sweet the land where hearts would fain once more 

On Freedom's holy altar lay their all, 
And spirits leap to bugles with old fires 

That thrilled thy sons at Liberty's first call. 

Thy manhood had not been of that high mold 
In which thy strong defenders e'er were cast. 

Had these not with certain prescience wrought 
Fair nuracles that ever more shall last. 

Mississippi 7 

Nor in her crucial hour could woman stand 

Before her mighty task unterrified, 
But for the virtues and infinite grace 

Of mother who her every need supplied. 

Rich in thy past and present, prophecy 

Full horns through coming years foretells for thee. 
And golden opportunity divines. 

Vouchsafed by Freedom and Democracy. 

Dear land ! Dear land ! Aye, more my eyes descry, 

A vision of thy fuller destiny 
Flames up as fair as Eethlchcm^s clear Star, 

TThe vision of God-Hke humanity. 

Mrs. Dunbar Rowland. 

By J. G. Deupree, 

Richard Alexander Pinson was the seventh child, the third and 
young"est son, of Joel and Elizabeth Dobbins Pinson, born April 
26th, 1829, in Lincoln County, Tenn,, near Fayetteville, the 
county seat. In 1835, the family emigrated 'and came to Ponto- 
toc County, Miss. There were then no railroads, and the trip 
was made in private conveyances. Richard Alexander, having 
through life a most remarkable memory, always insisted that he 
remembered all the important incidents of the journey. Reach- 
ing their destination, they found a wilderness, peopled by Indians, 
with only a few white families dotted here and there. Judge 
Pinson erected a residence where the town is located; and near 
the residence still many descendants are now living. He opened 
a real estate office and sold the first acre of land in the city of 
"Hanging Grapes", the Indian meaning of Pontotoc. He was 
generous to the corporation, and among other donations he gave 
the plot to be used as a cemetery' ; and his own daughter was the 
first white person buried therein. 

Richard, or as more familiarly known, Dick, attended a school 
taught by John W. Thompson. Being an apt pupil, he early dis- 
played accuracy, thoroughness, and thoughtfulness, unusual for 
one of his age. His advancement in books was rapid. After a 
few years in this primary school, his father sent him back to his 
native heath where in the same neighborhood in which he first 
saw the light he attended the Viney Grove Academy, an insti- 
tution of which Tennesseeans were proud, and where such men 
as the illustrious John M. Bright were educated. 

Returning to Pontotoc, he was welcomed by a dt voted family 
and a host of friends. Deferential and obedient to his parents, 


30 Mississippi Historical vSociety. 

afTcctionate and tender to his brothers and sisters, it is small won- 
der that he was so fondly loved and cherished. Indeed, he was 
the object of admiration and affection throughout his entire life. 
His father wished hitn to understand and love agriculture, since 
he lived in a farming country; and, therefore, gave him, a sec- 
tion of land near Pontotoc. He took great interest in his farm 
and called it ''Primrose/' Though so many years have elapsed 
and though the farm, still one of the best in the county, passed 
into other hands many years ago, it is still knov/n as ''Primrose"'. 

The ebony faces of his slaves would ever shine with joy at the 
approach of "Marsc Dick", as they fondly called him. He often 
made his home with his mother, whose farm/'5/o«y Lonesorne" , 
adjoined "Primrose". Horseback riding was a favorite diversion 
of his; and, as he was also a gre^t lover of nature, he found un- 
failing pleasure in his rides. His appearance was undeniably 
commanding, whether on foot or in the saddle, for he was of 
splendid physique and superb carriage, measuring six feet and 
two and a half inches in height and perfectly proportioned in 
every way. His smile was so genial, the look he bestowed so 
benign, and his hand-clasp so warm and strong, that one remem- 
bered it and felt better long after the greeting. In public and in 
military life, in politics and in the quiet atmosphere of home, he 
was a compelling force, — a man of wonderful magnetism and 

In the late "Fifties", he ran for the State legislature and was 
elected on the Whig ticket because of his personal popularity, 
despite the fact that the constituency was overwhelmingly Demo- 
cratic. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Con- 
federate service. A braver, truer soldier never shouldered a 
musket nor gave his country more valiant and faithful service. 
In the autumn of 1861, he was chosen Captain of his company 
and in the follov/ing year was elected Colonel of his regiment, 
the First Mississippi Cavalry. He was in many battles and par- 
ticipated in countless skirmishes and raids. Colonel Pinson, as 
he must now be called, was seriously wounded but once, at Davis' 
Bridge in 1862. He soon after returned to his post of duty and 
continued till the last days of the war in performance of the 

Colonel R. A. Pinson — Deuprcc. 11 

great trust his office implied. His courage never wavered for 
an instant; on the contrary, his brave spirit grew more daunt- 
less as the days and months fled by. 

Soon after his return from the war, his friends importuned him 
to become a candidate for Congress. He was elected by a hand- 
some majority, but was never permitted to serve because the 
State had not been reconstructed. This was a bitter disappoint- 
ment to his friends who realized what a factor for usefulness 
he might have been at this critical time, when the country was in 
such a state of upheaval and sorely needed the wisest and most 
tactful Representatives. Soon after this, Colonel Pinson entered 
the cotton business in Memphis. Among tile various honors 
bestowed upon him by the city of his adoption, none was more 
appreciated than his election as President of the Chamber of 
Commerce. A member of the Episcopal Church, he was broad 
I and liberal in his religious views, as he was magnanimous and 

I generous in all other respects. He was, indeed, a Christian in 

: the true meaning of the word. 

In the spring of 1864, the gallant young Colonel led to hymen's 
altar Miss Sina E. Duke, the amiable and accomplished daugh- 
ter of Colonel William H. and Mrs, Sina Bankhead Duke. This 
world has never knovv^n a happier marriage, — angels must have 
guarded and guided them through the nine perfect years they 
lived together. But in the spring of 1873, he w^as claimed as the 
first victim of cholera, which proved to be a long epidemic in 
the city of Memphis. After but a short illness, the fearless spirit 
of this good man took its flight to the God who gave it, meeting 
the last enemy as calmly as he always faced the foe on the field 
of battle. He was laid to rest in beautiful Elmwood ; and it was, 
indeed, fitting that he should sleep at last in the land of his 
birth, — fair, sunny Tennessee. 


By J. G. Deupree. 


It is the purpose of this writer briefly to sketch the history of 
the Noxubee .Squadron of the First Mississippi Cavalry, i. e., 
Cos. F and G. known at home as the Noxubee Cavalry and the 
Noxubee Troopers. Of course; it will be impossible to give 
a full and detailed account of every skirmish or battle, to men- 
tion every personal incident or noteworthy deed, to give the par- 
ticulars of every casualty, or even simply to note the death of 
every victim of battle or disease incident to military life. Hav- 
ing kept no diary during the war, having access to 
little written by surviving comrades, within reach 
of no comrade with whom he may confer orally, and beginning 
this delightful task too late in life to recall perfectly scenes and 
events once vividly impressed on memory's tablet, the writer 
must inevitably omit many things that would appeal to descend- 
ants of the gallant horsemen that composed this squadron. It is 
his purpose, however, to produce a readable and reliable story 
and to give some characteristic features of camp-life, marches, 
skirmishes, and battles, though necessarily omitting far more 
than he gives. The four years of the war demanded of the cav- 
alry arduous and continuous service, rendering it impossible 
even to outline all this Noxubee Squadron was called upon to do 
in picketing, scouting, repelling invaders, raiding, covering the 
flanks and rear of our armies, or fighting di'^mounted in the 
trenches with infantry. The writer must content himself, there- 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 13 

fore, with a selection of scenes and events which he would un- 
dertake to portray. 

I must say that the history of any other company of the First 
Mississippi Cavalry, if written up in detail, would be equally full 
of patriotic and daring- deeds, as is the story of either of the 
Noxubee companies. In fact, every squadron and each company 
of the regiment has often won distinction and commendation, 
and I only regret that the scope of this paper precludes the at- 
tempt to write up the many gallant actions of other companies 
or squadrons, in which a Noxubee company did not participate. 


In the fall, of 18G0, after Lincoln's election, political excite- 
ment ran high in Noxubee County, Miss., — the dominating ques- 
tion being whether the Southern States should secede separately 
or all together. That the Union was to be dissolved seemed a 
foregone conclusion. A large m.ajority of slaveholders, how- 
ever, had voted for Hon. John Bell or Hon. Stephen A. Doug- 
lass, while most of the non-slaveholders had voted for Hon. John 
C. Breckenridge. A policy of coercion on the part of the--J»ed- 
eral Government seemed probable; and after the expiration of 
Buchanan's administration and the inauguration of Lincoln, the 
invasion of the South was expected. Self-protection suggested 
measures of resistance. The Noxubee Rifles, Capt. George T. 
Wier, had been organized, drilled, and equipped for years, and 
were ready for active service. Now seemed to be a propitious 
time to organize a company of mounted men. Accordingly, on 
the last Saturday in November, when Macon was filled with peo- 
ple from all parts of Noxubee County, a meeting was held in 
the Court House. After some discussion, Hon. J. L. Hunter, 
past sixty years of age, who had been a captain of cavalry in his 
youth, upon urgent solicitation undertook to organize the troop- 
ers. Mounting his blooded stallion, meeting the volunteers in 
the open field not far from Purdy's Corner, he soon brought 
order out of chaos, drilling the men briefly in evolutions by fours 
and platoons. After marching several times up and down Main 

14 Mississippi Historical Society. 

street, he halted the company, had them dismount, hitch horses, 
and repair to the Town Plall for the election of officers. The 
old Captain declined to allow his own name to be voted on, stat- 
ing that ag-e and decrepitude forbade him to serve, but urged 
the selection of the best officer possible. Upon the first ballot, 
by unanimous vote, Judge H. William Foote was elected Cap- 
tain with three efiicient lieutenants ; three sergeants and four 
corporals were appointed; also, a bugler, Mr, J. J. Hunter, who 
like many others in the company had followed hounds in the 
chase and could sound a cow's horn to perfection. Money was 
raised ; carbines, pistols, and sabres were ordered ; and the meet- 
ing adjourned. 

The company grew rapidly by accessions, as they met every 
Saturday for drill. Many enlisted from old and prominent 
families, — Beasleys, Boyles, Brooks, Jarnagins, Jacksons, 
Whites, Yateses, and others. Sometimes, squads of brothers and 
cousins enrolled together. P^or example, there were : Bush, A. 
H.; Bush, Albert; Bush, Anderson; Bush, J. D. ; Dantzler, J. L. ; 
Dantzler, J. L., Jr.; Dantzler, G. H. ; Dantzler, T. M. ; Dantzler, 
Jack; Deupree, J. L. ; Deupree, J. G. ; Deupree, J. \V. ; Deupree, 
T. J. ; Deupree, T. M. ; Deupree, W. Daniel ; Deupree, W. Drew- 
ry ; Deupree, J. EHington; Deupree, J. Everett ; Greer, A. ; Greer, 
F. B. ; Greer, F. J. ; Greer, J. H. ; Greer, J. A. ; Hunter, C. M. ; 
Hunter, H. M.; Hunter, H. D. ; Hunter, W. ; Hunter, J. J.; 
Hunter, J. \V. ; etc. iMany families had as many as three or 
four representatives. It was, indeed, an aggregation of citizens 
of every class and condition; planters, overseers, merchants, 
clerks, doctors, lawyers, officials and politicians, men of means 
and men without, — but all alike inspired with patriotic fervor 
and determined to repel invasion, sacrificing even life itself, if 
need be, on the sacred altar of their countr)\ 


In due time, sabres, carbines, and pistols came. Buckling the 
sabres on the left side, swinging the carbines on the right, and 
putting the pistols in our belts, we were so heavily anned that 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 15 

we found difficulty in mounting. Afterwards, we learned to 
keep pistols in the holsters on our saddle-horns, and by practice 
l>ecame adepts in using sabres or carbines at will, whether 
mounted or dismounted. We drilled regularly, and progress was 
made. Captain and lieutenants studied the tactics diligently. Men 
and horses, with almost equal facility, learned to discriminate 
and execute the various commands. Drills were frequent in 
firing carbines, shooting pistols, and using sabres. Maneuvers 
were practised on foot, as well as on horseback, for several con- 
secutive weeks. 

At length, excitement grew apace. States began to secede, 
South Carolina leading off, followed by Mississippi. Governors 
I called for troops. The seceded States sent delegates to Mont- 
gomery, Ala., to form a Provisional Government for the Con- 
federate States of America. The Federal Government raised 
large armies, threatening to coerce the South. Several companies 
from Noxubee county had enlisted in the Confederate service. 
Lieutenant J. L. Deupree, private J. Ellington Deupree, and 
^ other cavalrymen had withdrawn from Foote's company and 

joined the Noxubee Rifles under Capt. Wier, fearing the war 
would end before the cavalry would see active service. Seeing 
a tendency to disintegration, Capt. Foote, on the next drill-day, 
rode in front and said it seemed to him that the time had come 
when duty called at least a part of the company to volunteer for 
active service at the front, and ordered all who would volunteer 
thus to ride ten paces forward. About half the men obeyed and 
Capt. Foote put himself at their head. They withdrew and or- 
ganized the Noxubee Cavalry with seventy five privates by elect- 
ing H. W. Foote, Captain; Hampton Williams, First Lieuten- 
ant; C. M. Hunter, Second Lieutenant; and T. J. Deupree, Third 
Lieutenant. The necessary non-commissioned officers were ap- 
pointed, and T. J. Deupree and Sam Day were directed to re- 
cruit the additional men needed by the following Saturday, — 
which they did. 

16 Mississippi Historical Society. 


In April, 1861, when ''Faith as to Sumter" had not been kept 
by the Federal Government, when Lincoln had called for 75,000 
men to invade the South, and when the tocsin of war had thus 
been sounded, the people of Dixie Land rushed to arms almost 
oi masse, with a precipitancy and unanimity unparalleled in the 
history of the world. Lentil then, they had differed widely as to 
the policy of secession, though not as to the right to secede ; but 
now, confronted with the menace of subjugation, the South res- 
olutely armed herself for protection, and all differences van- 
ished. This is an inalienable right, inherent in every people, in 
every age and clime. At that time the masses were intelligent 
as to public aft'airs. All knew that the power to coerce a sover- 
eign State had been denied the Federal Government by the Con- 
vention that adopted the U. S. Constitution. They knew, too, 
that this sacred Compact between States had been shamelessly 
trampled underfoot and denounced by Abolition leaders as "a 
covenant with Death and a league with Hell". 

Before April, 1861, comparatively few military companies ex- 
isted in the Southern States in anticipation of war. Now, volun- 
teer organizations became well-nigh universal. Ever>'where, with 
the approval of older and wiser heads, girls and matrons gave 
picnics and encouraged enlistment, v/hile men and boys gallantly 
fell into line. Noxubee County, Mississippi, one of the richest 
and fairest of all the South, was no laggard in this glorious and 
patriotic movement. The first company to leave for the seat of 
war was the Noxubee Rifles, which was entrained at Macon for 
Virginia early in April. It became Company F in the Eleventh 
Mississippi, winning fame and glory on many bloody battlefields. 
The Rifles were feted and honored by the people of Macon; able 
and patriotic addresses were made by Rev. G. H. Martin, pastor 
of the Baptist Church and by Lion. Israel Welch, a private in the 
company and afterwards a member of the Confederate Congress. 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Denpree. 17 


The Noxubee Cavalry impatiently witnessed the farewell cere- 
monies incident to the departure of the Rifles, longing- to go with 
them and wondering why they, too, had not received marching, 
orders. No longer satisfied with weekly drills on the field east of 
Calhoun J[nstitute and west of Cedar Creek, the Cavalry repaired 
to Camp Goodwin, a few miles below Macon, on the Noxubee Riv- 
er, for more intensive drilling and more persistent instruction in 
all that pertains to military service on horseback. Here we had 
ample room for all movements by twos, by fours, by platoons, or 
by company.. Bathing and fishing, as well as hunting, were en- 
joyed greatly. "The good people, from far and near, coming every 
day to see our drills and parades, never failed to spread most 
bountiful picnic dinners, which we eagerly consumed. At night 
we held moot courts, in which culprits were tried for alleged of- 
fenses against "law and disorder" of every kind; and, also, we 
had public debates on various questions of "sense and non-sense", 
ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. Our lawyers and col- 
lege graduates led the debates. It may be incidentally remarked 
in passing that such trials and debates gave diversion to camp-- 
life long aftei- these embryo soldiers became war-seasoned vet- 
erans in the Confederate service- • 

Our stay at Camp Goodwin culminated in a flag-presentation. 
The fair ladies of the county had designed, and procured in Mo- 
bile, a silk banner at a cost of not less than $100 in gold. It was, 
indeed, exquisitely beautiful, about four feet square and of the 
best possible material. Its colors were rare and radiant, and it 
was fringed with golden tassels. On one side on a white field, it 
was dedicated to the Noxubee Cavalry; and on the other, were 
the patriotic words : "Duke et decorum pro patria mori". Most 
gracefully and in charming phrases, the presentation-speech was 
delivered by Miss Mattie Haynes, and the response was eloquent 
and patriotic by Mr. J. E. Deupree, now living in Fannin County, 
Texas. Not a cloud flecked the sky while we were in Camp 
Goodwin, and this flag was presented on as fair a day as was 
ever known in our Sunny South. The Company had been formed 

18 Mississippi Historical Society. 

into a hollow square with the eleven youn^ ladies representing 
the eleven seceded States occupying the fourth side of the square. 
Though nearly three-score years have passed since tliat glorious 
day, its precious picture lingers still in my mind as clear and as 
distinct as an event of yesterday. But my old and feeble pen 
cannot portray the scene so that readers may comprehend its 
'beauty and brilliancy. I shall not try. All know that a beauti- 
ful Woman is the prettiest thing on earth, and a fme horse next ; 
and the combination simply defies description. The whole time at 
Camp Goodvvin was most delightful to us all, and ever since then 
it has been a place of blessed memory to every survivor. 


Early in June, the company occupied the Fair Grounds in Ma- 
con, preparatory to entraining fo.r Union City, Tenn. Additional 
carbines, pistols, and sabres had been procured from Jackson to 
supply our new recruits. Intensive drilling was practiced. 
Messes were organized, eight or ten men to each and a two-horse 
wagon for transportation of baggage and cooking utensils, and 
two servants, one to cook and the other to groom horses. Per- 
sonal servants attended many officers and privates who owned 
slaves. We all fared well and looked forward joyously to the 
time when we should meet the enemy. At length, the day came 
when we were to break camp and leave Mississippi. Horses, 
baggage, and wagons were put aboard the train ; officers and men 
kissed their good-byes to loved ones, some shedding copious 
tears, but all rejoicing that we were going toward the front. We 
had a pleasant trip and reached Union City without the loss of 
man, horse, or baggage. Capt. Foote rejx>rted promptly to Gen- 
eral Frank Qieatham, who was in command of several thousand 
infantry and a small battalion of cavalry, to which we were as- 
signed as its fourth unit. Capt. John Henry Miller had been 
elected Major, and the organization w^as known as the First Bat- 
talion of Mississippi Cavalry. -Other companies were added from 
time to time till there were ten, when it became fam^ous as the 
First Mississippi Cavalry. Now the battalion was composed of 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcuprec. V.> 

tJie Pontotoc Dragoons, Capt. A. B. Cole; the Thompson Cav~ 
airy from Oxford, Capt. A. J. Bowles ; the Bolivar Troopers,. 
Capt. F. A. Montgomery ; and the Noxubee Cavalry, Capt. H. W. 
lHX>te. Major J. H. Miller was a Presbyterian clergyman, 
thoroughly educated, descended from military ancestors, tall and 
.straight as an arrow, chivalrous and eloquent. Though about 
fifty years old, he was overflowing with energy and military 
ardor, and as active and alert as the youngest trooper in his com- 
mand. General. Frank Cheatham was a veteran of the War with 
Mexico, frank and genial, for whom all subordinates entertained 
the profoundest respect and affection. Constant drills and re- 
views were the order of the day, combined with picketing and 
scouting. We grew more and more impatient to draw nearer 
the enemy, as we read daily reports from Virginia, South Caro- 
lina, and Missouri. News of the Battle of Manassas and the 
complete defeat of the Federals made us believe that the war 
would soon end and that we should never see an armed enemy 
nor fire a shot in actual battle. Alas ! how little did we appreciate 
the grim determination of the Northern soldier! At length, 
drilling and scouting became too strenuous for Lieut. Hampton 
Williams, nearing three-score years of age, and he resigned^ 
R. O. Wier being elected Third Lieutenant to fill the vacancy 
created by the promotion in sequence of the other lieutenants. 


Late in August, baggage, tents, and ammunition, were loaded 
on cars for Memphis, and the men were ordered to cook three 
days rations and prepare to march. Much speculation was in- 
dulged, but no one outside of headquarters knew the purpose 
of the movement nor the destination. However, we marched 
westward and in due time found ourselves on the bank of the 
Mississippi several miles south of New Madrid, Mo. Thither we 
were transported in steamboats. Here within a few days was 
concentrated an army of 10,000 men of all arms. We now felt 

20 Mississippi Historical Society. 

closer to the enemy, for every day came rumors of fights be- 
tween the Federals and Jefl Thompson's State Guards, composed 
of Missourians and Indians. These were reported sometimes 
north near Charleston and sometimes west near Sikeston. Gen- 
eral Thompson's men were armed mainly with old-fashioned 
squirrel rifles. Experienced in the use of these weapons, inured 
to hardships, largely destitute of fear, and thoroughly at home 
in the saddle, they were antagonists not to he despised. The 
General himself was a wiry little man, active as the traditional 
cat, and a noted horseman. His mount was a milk-white stallion 
with large black spots, like a circus horse ; and he dashed along 
like a boy on his first pony, invariably followed by his big Indian 
orderly flashily dressed in the garb of his tribe. Wherever and 
whenever they appeared they were cheered vociferously. Occa- 
sionally, straggling men from this command passed through our 
camp, telling many stories, hardly credible, of their battles with 
the enemy, as well as evidently fictitious tales of Jeff Thompson's 
Indian contingent. 


General Gideon Pillow, famous veteran of the War with Mex- 
ico, commanded our Army of Liberation, so designated because 
we supposed we were about to march to St. Louis. To lend color 
to this supposition, ]\Iaj. Z^Iiller's cavalry were ordered to report 
to General Thortipson, west of Sikeston. Cole's and Foote's com- 
panies were thence sent towards Benton, in Scott County. We 
camped on Watkins' Farm, where we had a most delightful time 
in spite of hard service in picketing and scouting. Fat beeves 
were plentiful, as well as flour, lard, and bacon. Details were 
made daily to shoot beeves for the companies. This scribe re- 
calls that one day, when ordered to shoot a beef, he fired his 
Maynard, and lo ! not one beef but two fell dead instantly ! The 
ball had passed through the head of one and the heart of another. 
To the gratification of all, our meat rations were unusually lib- 

'Ilic Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 21 

eral that clay. In this connection, I transcribe from the MACON 
(Mississippi) BEACON, dated Sept. 11th, ISGl, the following 


Camp Watkins, near Benton, Mo., 

August 18th, 18G1. 
^ty Dear Mr. Ferris : — 

We have been about three weeks in this delightful countr>', — 
far too good to give up without a struggle on the part of the 
South. The granaries are all overflowing with this year's har- 
vest, and every prospect promises an abundant crop of wheat in 
the coming spring. The rich lands and the good appearance of 
the country in .every respect justify our claiming and holding 
Missouri. The people, so far as I can 'judge, are with us in sen- 
timent. Prudence has kept them silent. Those daring to express 
themselves have been molested in divers ways ; some with per- 
sonal violence, others by having their property confiscated and 
carried away, while the homes of many have not escaped the 
torch. The farm adjoining our camp has suffered heavily: a 
fine steam-m.ill, a large barn, two thousand bushels of wheat, and 
many other valuables ^^•ere burned b}" the Federal Germans be- 
fore we came to this neighborhood. Homes have been entered 
and bayonets pointed at innocent women by the marauding 
brutes; some private citizens have been captured; large fields 
of corn have been destroyed ; horses, mules, negroes, and cattle, 
have been driven away ; and every conceivable species of mischief 
and destruction has been done by these cow^ardly wretches. They 
have come, as many as 600 in a body, and forced their way every- 
where, their headciuarters being a stone church in the town of 
Hamburg, built by Roman Catholic Germans. This is their gen- 
eral rendezvous, about three miles from the county site of Scott 

We shall probably leave here tomorrow night. When I write 
again, I may have, in all probability, something more important 
to communicate. 

Until then, adieu. 



We were ordered back to New Madrid. A movement now oc- 
curred, for which doubtless there were good reasons, though they 
have not yet come to light. Tents, baggage, infantry and artillery 


22 Mississippi Historical Society. 

were put on steamboats, and the cavalry marched down the river 
fifteen or twenty miles and bivouacked on its bank. The boats 
came and were tied up. Next morning we were ordered back, 
boats and all, recalling- the famous historic incident, when 

"The King of France with his ten thousand men 
Marched up the hill and then marched down again". 


Early in September, the cavalry were ferried across the river 
and rode to Hickman, Ky., whither General Cheatham and a bri- 
gade of infantry had gone on a steamboat. Dense columns of 
smoke were visible far up the river; women and children were 
screaming in the streets, as we arrived ; bugles were sounded ; and 
guns were placed in commanding positions to resist an expected 
attack, for a large force was believed to be corning down, threat- 
ening the capture of Hickman. First to come in sight was a 
little Confederate ster^i-wheeler, the Grampus painted black, with 
a six-pounder on her bow and commanded by Captain Marsh 
Miller wheeled the Grampus around and opened fire on his pur- 
sued by two formidable gun-boats, which were constantly firing 
at him. As he came under the protection of our batteries, Capt. 
Miller wheeled the Grampus around and opened fire on his pur- 
suers with a six-pounder. His shots fell short. Now the twelve- 
pounders on the bank began to fire, and the gun-boats thus threat- 
ened with destruction quickly withdrew out of range. General 
Pillow with infantry and artillery had hurried for^vard by land 
but reached Columbus just a little too late to intercept the Fed- 
eral gun-boats. 


Our cavalry on reaching Columbus found General Pillow in 
possession. Additional forces were soon assembled and General 
Leonidas Polk assumed command. Capt. Tobe T-aylor's company 
from Panola was here added to Miller's battalion, — a most val- 
uable accession, for Captain Taylor became one of the best offi- 
cers the regiment ever had. The Pontotoc Dragoons had become 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 23 

so numerous it was deemed expedient to divide the company, 
Captain Cole retaining the larger portion, and Adjutant R. A. 
Pinson being elected Captain of the new organization. Our 
camp was on th_e river bank about one mile south of the railroad 
depot. When off duty, we enjoyed nothing more than to gather 
on the bluff just north of Columbus to see gun-boats pursue Capt. 
Marsh Aliller as he returned from his daily scouts up the river, 
which here flowed without a bend from north to south for many 
miles. Sometimes the Grampus was gone so long we feared she 
had been captured ; but at length she would be seen in the dis- 
tance under a full head of steam and with her shrill whistle doing 
its utmost to be heard all down the river; and beyond were the 
gunboats, firing as they came. After getting under protection of 
our land batteries, the Grampus never failed to turn and ''pop 
away" with her six-pounder, much to our amusement and doubt- 
less to the ajnusement of the Federals as well. But the enemy 
would turn back before coming within range of our guns. At 
length, we procured a big gun, christened "The Lady Polk" , 
which we all confidently expected to destroy the gun-boats ; but on 
its first fire it exploded, and killed and Avounded several of our 
best gunners. Scouting, drilling, parading, picketing, and re- 
f views kept us busy. Rumors of intended attacks on Columbus 

\ never ceased. By accessions of three other companies our bat- 

talion became a regim.ent of nine companies, and our ^lajor be- 
came Lieutenant-Colonel Miller in command. 


Col. Tappan's regiment of Arkansas infantry and Beltzhoover's 
battery were on the west bank of the r^Iississippi in Belmont, Mo. ; 
also, Montgomery's and Bovvles" companies from our regiment of 
cavalry. Gus Watson was with ^Montgomery, one of several 
brothers, all men of means and note, all good poker-players, who 
before the war had made frequent trips on palatial steamboats up 
and down the Mississippi, ostensibly on business but really to in- 
dulge in the fascinating gam.e. From their reckless style of play 
arose the well-known expression "to play like the lP'atsons'\ still 

M Mississippi Historical Society. 

frequently heard. I am told, by poker-players eveTyv.'heTe to this 
good day. Gus Watson had equipped Beltzhoover's battery at 
his own expense and was with it, though holding no office. He 
usually accompanied Capt. Montgomery in his scouts near Bird's 
Point, which was held by a considerable force of Federals. Once, 
Montgomery with thirty picked men met a Federal captain with 
more than fifty, well-mounted and fully equipped. Quite a fusil- 
lade occurred, in which both sides stood their ground for some 
time; but, at length to ^Montgomery's gratification, the Federals 
by twos and fours began to wdieel out of line and give way. Pur- 
suit was inadvisable, as Montgomery was far from any support- 
ing force. Riding up to the abandoned Federal line, he saw 
stretched in death a fine-looking young man wearing the chevrons 
of a sergeant, his Burnside carbine by his side on the ground. 
This was the first man killed in open fight between the opposing 
troops from the hostile armies, encamped at Cairo and Columbus. 
The dead Federal was left with citizens to be buried ; his sabre 
was given to Gus Watson, and his pistols and carbine to cavalry- 
men not fully equipped. How' many Federals were wounded and 
carried away *was never ascertained. Montgoniery had five 
horses killed and one man so seriously w^ounded that his right 
arm was amputated near the shoulder. The men were proud to 
get back to camp and relate the incidents of their victory. The 
whole camp turned out to greet them and to hear their account of 
the ''battle'^ news of which had already been wired to the ]\Iem- 
phis papers. T^Iontgomery and his men were heroes of the hour. 
Active scouting and picketing contmued. On Nov. 7th, the cav- 
alry were the first to meet Grant's reconnoitering force, consist- 
ing of one brigade of infantry with the usual compkinent of ar- 
tillery, probably more than 3.000 men, marching south down the 
west bank of the ^Mississippi, hoping to capture the whole of Tap- 
pan's force. Our cavalry did valiant service, gallamly receiving 
the first shock and bravely skirmishing against great odds so as 
to delay their progress as much as possible, in order that Tappan 
might prepare his infantry and artillery for the impending bat- 
tle. Even as it was. Grant came on so rapidly that Tappan was 
not fully ready and his men were driven to the water's edge and 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 25 

some of them into tlie water. Here they resisted heroically. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, who had been commanding other com- 
panies of his regiment north of Columbus, in anticipation of an 
attack, after becoming satisfied no attack would be made on 
Columbus, crossed the river and put himself at the head of his 
squadron in Belmont. While Miller was holding his position on 
the flank of the infantry, the commanding officer rode up to him 
and said: ''Col. Miller, lead your men into action. Sir, and give 
the Yankees hell". Miller saluted and replied: "That is the 
command I have been waiting and wishing to hear". Putting 
I spurs to his horse he ordered and led the charge of his two com- 

I panics against a battalion of Federal cavalry and drove them in 

I utter confusion from the field. His favorite horse, *'Arab", 

I which he had raised on his own planlation, was killed under him 

in this action. Meantime, Cheatham's brigade had been ferried 
across and by rapid m.arching hoped to cut oil Grant's retreat. 
This he' almost succeeded in doing, being greatly aided by the 
cavalry in pursuing the fleeing enemy. But Grant's men were 
too fleet of foot to be overtaken. They boarded their boats and 
steamed away. 

On the next day, Foote's company, the Noxubee Cavalry, were 
sent across the 1-iver to relieve Montgomery and Bowles, and to 
supervise the Federals who came down under a flag of truce to 
bury their dead on the battlefield. Some of us followed General 
Qieatham on the steamboat, whither he went to meet General 
Grant, whom he had known well in the Old Army. After awhile 
the Generals stepped to the bar to take a social glass, it being 
Grant's treat. As they lifted the liquor to their lips. Grant said, 
"Plere's to General Washington, the Father of his Country", 
when Cheatham promptly added, *'and the first great Rebel'' ; and 
simuhaneously they drank the amended toast. We found a few- 
wounded Confederate soldiers aboard, whom the Federals had 
collected from farm-houses in the neighborhood; and General 
Qieatliam promptly and very properly ordered them to be re- 
moved to shore, for it was clearly in violation of the laws of civil- 
ized warfare for men under flag of truce to capture prisoners. 
lo us, who had as yet little experience in war, the battlefield pre- 


26 Mississippi Historical Society. 

sented a ghastly appearance ; and the Rev. G. H. Martin, who was 
up from Macon on a visit to his many friends in our company, 
was so heart-sickened he could scarcely endure the sight, and as 
soon as possible cut short his visit and returned home. Our dead 
were all decently interred. The Federals buried theirs hastily, 
without coffins or blankets; in one instance, laying -11 clad, just as 
they fell, in a single long trench and covering them with earth to 
the depth of about two feet. x\fter the work was completed, the 
Federals departed in their boats and we were recalled to 


One morning at Cheatham's headquarters, there suddenly ap- 
peared Ned Saunders from California. His father had been a 
noted criminal lawyer in Natchez; and, as far back as 1851, liad 
been a pronounced secessionist. After the triumph of Union sen- 
timent in the memorable campaign of that year, he left the 
State and made his home in California. When he became of age, 
Ned Saunders joined General Walker, the great fillibuster, in his 
expedition against Nicaraugua and won the grade of Major-Gen- 
eral in Walker's army. While Walker was de facto President of 
Nicaraugua/Saunders was married. Walker performing the cere- 
mony. After the defeat of Walker's army, Saunders managed 
somehow to effect his escape and thus did not share the fate of 
Walker. Receiving the necessary a,uthority through the help of 
General Cheatham, Saunders raised a company of scouts, includ- 
ing his younger brother, and did excellent service till the war 


For many weeks parties of our cavalry made long rides 
through all portions of the Jackson Purchase, finding ample evi- 
dence of Southern sympathy. In fact, the whole population 
seemed to be loyal to the South, for those really in sympathy with 
the North were discreet enough to keep quiet. We believed then, 
as we believe now, that people had a right to think for them- 
selves and to follow their own convictions, so long as they- did not 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 27 

interfere with the rights of others. In the Hght of this principle, 
wc could not but enjoy an amusing incident some of our cavalry 
witnessed. Not far from Mayfield, while riding along a ])ubHc 
highway, they passed a fanri-house ; and on the verandali sat 
an elderly gentleman, whose surplus adipose hung lovv' enough to 
cover his femurs, as he rested his pedal extremities on the ballus- 
ters in front of him. He gesticulated wildly and shouted lustily: 
"Hurrah for Jeff Davis and the Southern Confederacjyr , while 
in another part of the house a little girl was seen struggling with 
might and main to haul down the Stars and Stripes, symbolic 
doubtless of the real political sentiments of the family. As a 
matter of course the fat old gentleman ''got the horse laugh" 
from the troopers: Through the purchase, however, we rode to 
little purpose, for the Federals rarely ventured beyond their lines 
about Paducah and always carefully evaded meeting the rebels. 
This hard service, nevertheless, made us take on the ways of the 
soldier and taught us valuable lessons of the bivouac, which stood 
us in good stead, when afterwards we were compelled to use 
scanty resources to the best advantage. There was. another ben- 
efit: a goodly number of recruits joined us, and these Kentuckians 
!; all made valiant soldiers. Some of our companies, including the 

I Noxubee Cavalry spent the latter part of the month of January 

I at Camp Beauregard, near the village of Feliciana, which proved ^ 

f ^ to be for us a charming little place. Our younger and marriage- 
I able soldiers, especially, enjoyed the society of the many fascinat- 

I ing young ladies, most of whom were genuinely Southern. Then, 

I too, we lived well, drawing rations freely from adjoining farmxS 

I and finding a plentiful supply of chickens, turkeys, and guineas, 

I as well as "peach and honey". None of us neglected our oppor- 

i tunities. But like all good things, life at Camp Beauregard must 

I come to an end. 


A change had come. Grant captured Forts Henry and Donel- 
son and was moving towards Pittsburgh Landing on the Ten- 
nessee River. Confederate forces were concentratinof at Corinth. 
Columbus, Ky., was evacuated and r\Iiller's regiment was to cover 

28 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the retreat. When Polk's army had reached Lexinj^ton, Tenn., 
on April 24th by order of General Polk, Col. A. J. Lindsay, an 
Old Army officer, was assigned to the command of the Pirst 
Mississippi Cavalry, Lieutenant-ColoT-»el ]\Iiller retaining his 
grade and being subordinate to Colonel Lindsay, as he was too 
good a patriot to resign when a battle was impending. Though 
at the risk of being somewhat tedious, to show how a great battle 
appeared to a private in the cavalry, this writer will here practi- 
cally repeat much of an article he previously contributed to a pubr 
lication by the Mississippi Historical Society. 

While in Jackson, Tenn., enroute to his new regiment, Colonel 
Lindsay received a telegram directing him to march immediately 
to Monterey. He accordingly dispatched a courier with instruc- 
tions to this effect to Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, and Lindsay 
himself overtook the regiment a few miles from tlie village and 
at once modestly assumed command. His quiet dignity and 
soldierly bearing won immacdiate confidence and respect, so that 
ready obedience was accorded him from the first. Later, the 
men held him in high esteem after witnessing his coolness under 
fire, as he sat amid shot and shell with a leg thrown over the 
horn of his saddle and puffing awa:y with seeming unconcern at 
his corncob pipe, tliough at the same time displaying instinctive 
knowledge when to move, where to move, and how to move. 

There had been no pursuit of our army and no fighting on the 
retreat from Columbus ; but the feeling- now prevailed that we 
should fight and not retreat, as our soldiers all believed that the 
disasters of Forts Henry and Donelson sliould be retrieved. We 
knew that the exultant enemy was steaming up the Tennessee and 
the Cumberland; and there was universal joy in our ranks, when 
at Purdy, Tenn., we wheeled eastward towards the Tennessee 
River. As we moved on, we heard more and more of the mighty 
converging of Confederate forces. The roads grew worse. 
Wrecked and abandoned wagons and caissons in the mud gave 
ample evidence that we had been preceded by many commands 
of infantry and artillery. As we advanced we found roads, 
woods, and fields filled with troops, eagerly pressing forward and 
intensely anxious to meet the invaders. From couriers and strag- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 29 

glcrs we heard of numerous commands ahead. They told us of 
troops from Kentucky, from Tennessee from Alabama, from 
Louisiana, from Arkansas, and from Florida. Forrest's cavalry 
and Terry's Texas Rangers were also mentioned. We heard 
that the invincible Albert Sidney Johnston, the iron-hearted 
Braxton Bragg, the superb John C. Breckenridge, and the war^^ 
Beauregard would be there. To think of the presence of these 
great leaders made all hearts bouyant. We of the army from 
I Columbus knew General Albert Sidney Johnston. We had often 

seen his majestic form as he rode with his staff to view the forti- 
' fications of Chalk Bluff and to inspect the troops of our warlike 

Bishop. We had often seen him standing on the bluff, when his 
gigantic form and eagle eye showed to best advantage, inspiring 
all with undaunted heroism. Johnston's very looks betrayed the 
bom commander, and under his leadership we felt assured of 
victory on the morrow. 

On the night before the battle, our regiment bivouacked in 
the tall timbers on the very edge of the battlefield. We were, 
indeed, much nearer the enemy than any of us imagined. We 
knew that for miles and miles the woods were full of our friends, 
but we knew not that we were within easy range of Grant's rifled 
artillery. It has seemed a mystery to me ever since, how there 
could have been so perfect quiet amid the mighty hosts of those 
two opposing armies on that ominous night. No bugles sounded, 
•. no bands played ; there was no firing, no cheering, no loud talk- 
ing, no noise, and no disturbance of any kind. Whether this still- 
ness resulted from orders of our great commander, I do not 
know ; but I do know that all was then quiet along the Tennessee. 
I Verily, it was but the calm before the storm. On our part, we 

I were happy that the long retreat had ended; and in all m.y life I 

can recall no sounder or sweeter sleep than I enjoyed that night 
with my saddle for a pillow, grass and leaves for my bed, and the 
silent stars as sentinels smiling propitiously from above. 

April Gth, 1862, a holy sabbath day, dawned clear and bright. 
We were awakened from our dreamless sleep by myriads of song- 
sters in the boughs above us. We made hasty breakfast from 

30 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the remnants of rations issued and cooked two days before. As 
soon as it was light enough to see, the clear ringing notes of Cox, 
our regimental bugler, called us "to boots and saddles". Har- 
dee's advance had already encountered in the gray of dawn the 
25th Missouri and the 12th ^lichigan, which a brigade com- 
mander in Prentiss's division had on his own initiative sent for- 
ward to reconnoitre, because of an indefinable conviction that all 
was somehow not right in his immediate front. At the sound of 
the sharp rifles, the pent up enthusiasm of Confederates could no 
longer be restrained and 

"At once there came from a deep and narrow dell 

As wild a yell. 
As if all the fiends from Heaven that fell 

Had pealed the battle-cry of Hell''. 

The regiment was formed promptly into line and then wlieeled 
by companies into hollow squares ; and in the centre of each com- 
pany, the captain read the following 


"Soldiers of the Army of Mississippi, I have put you in motion 
to ofTer battle to the invaders of your country. With the resolu- 
tion and discipline and valor becoming men fighting, as you are, 
for all worth living for or dying for, you cannot but march to a 
decisive victory over the agrarian mercenaries sent to subjugate 
you and to despoil you of your liberties, your property, and your 
honor. Remember the precious stake involved; remember the 
dependence of your mothers, your wives, your sisters, and your 
children, on the result ; remember this fair, broad abounding land, 
and the happy homes that would be desolated by your defeat. 

The eyes and hopes of eight millions of people rest upon you; 
and you are expected to show yourselves worthy of your lineage, 
worthy of the women of the South, whose noble devotion in 
this war has never been exceeded. With such incentives to brave 
deeds, and with the trust that God is with us, your Generals will 
lead you confidently to the combat, — assured of success." 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 31 

I can never forget the fervid and impressive eloquence with 
which this address was read to our company by our gallant Cap- 
tain H. W. Foote. It fired all hearts and awoke still sterner res- 
olution in the breast of every trooper. Those brave words have 
lingered for more than fifty years in my memory, clustering like 
a halo about the name and the fame of the great commander on 
the battlefield of Shiloh. 

The ground on which our line rested at its first formation was a 
heavily wooded plateau without brush or undergrowth. We 
could see the lines of our army for long distances on the right 
and on the left as they advanced with marvelous precision and in 
perfect order throug'h the open woods, with regimental colors fly- 
ing and all the bands playing "Dixie". It seems but as yesterday 
when we watched those advancing hosts and listened to those mar- 
tial airs. The engagement had soon become general, and the en- 
emy were evidently yielding to the sledge-hammer blows of Har- 
dee's corps. The First Mississippi Cavalry marched forward on 
the right of Cheatham's division, keeping in line with it until 
just before engaging the enemy, when Col. Lindsay was ordered 
to pass to the rear. Then Cheatham's infantry became heavily 
engaged, while we remained close in their rear for about two 
hours. The enemy were driven steadily, with no hesitation or 
confusion on our part. The rattle of musketry, the booming of 
cannon, the screaming of shells, the whistling bullets, 

'»'The rocket's red glare. 

And the bombs bursting in the air", — 

all united to create emotions within us that words cannot describe. 
The deafening sounds, the stunning explosions, and the fiery 
flames of battle seemed to pass along the line in great billows 
from right to left. 

Being in the rear of Cheatham's division, we were not under 
direct fire till about 10 o'clock, when the infantry were lying down 
in front of us, and our cavalry became a target for the artillery 
and sharp-shooters of the enemy. A Federal battery began to 
play upon us with a good degree of accuracy. We could hear the 
heavy missiles whizzing around and above us ; and some of them. 


32 Mississippi Historical Society. 

too, were distinctly visible. One ^rcat shot I shall never forget. 
As it came through the air it was clearly seen. Capt. I-'oote saw it 
as it ricocheted, and spurred his horse out of the way. Lieuten- 
ant T. J. Deupree was not so fortunate. This same shot grazed 
his thigh, cut in two the sabre hanging at his side, and passed 
through his noble stallion, which at once sank lifeless in his tracks. 
It also killed a second horse in the rear of Lieutenant Deupree, 
and finally striking a third horse in the shoulder felled him to the 
ground without disabling him or even breaking the skin. That 
ball was then spent. My own horse, "Bremer', in the excitement 
and joy of battle raised his tail ou high, and a cannon-ball cut 
away about half of it, bone and all; and ever afterwards he was 
known as "bob-tailed Bremer''. Many solid shot we saw strike 
tlic ground, bounding like rubber balls, passing over our heads 
and making music in their course. Colonel Lindsay at this time 
counter-marched the regiment and took shelter in a neighboring 
ravine. Thus, while in supporting distance of the infantry, we 
were often under fire, unless protected by the nature of the 
•ground, by dense thickets, or by deep ravines. 

During this great battle, the Noxubee Cavalry held the right 
of the regiment and was always in front when marching by twos 
or fours from one position to another ou the battle-line. I rode 
beside m.y cousin J. E. Deupree, comrade and mess-mate. Being 
on the right of the company, Joe and I were the first two of the 
regiment; and in this favored position we were in close touch 
with the regimental officers, so that we could hear every order 
given or received by Colonel Lindsay. By close attention to these 
orders, w-e would the better comprehend the movements made 
and more intelligently observe the progress of the battle. This 
cousin we called "Texas Joe" for distinction's sake, as at one 
time, there were three Joe Deuprees in the company. As the 
name given him indicates, he was from Texas. He was perfectly 
willing, however, to serve with Mississippians under that beauti- 
ful flag, which he received so eloquently at Camp Goodwin about 
a year before. Yet he could not but long to have the "Lone Star 
of Texas" to float above his head. Joe had been a student of law 
at Lebanon, Tennessee, in April, 1.SG1. Secession broke up the 


Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 33. 

school, and the students of the Cumberland University dispersed 
to their homes in order to prepare to enter the Confederate ser- 
vice. On his way back to Texas, Joe found it convenient to visit 
his relatives in Noxubee County, Mississippi, and was persuaded 
to enlist with them in the Noxubee Cavalry, believing that the 
war would be fought entirely east of the Mississippi and that, if 
he proceeded to Texas, he would simply have a long and toilsome 
ride back in order ever to get into battle. By agreement with 
Captain Foote, however, he was to be transferred to a Texas 
regiment if ever he chose to do so. This he did some months 
later and soon thereafter was captured. In consequence, he 
spent more than two and a half years in prison on Johnson's 
Island. Some day, it is hoped, he will write out and publish his 
sad experience. 

Once oh Sunday morning, General Cheatham rode up and in- 
quired as to the health of his "Hell-roaring Battalion of Caval- 
ry". His coat was ail torn by a minie-ball ; and when asked if 
he were wounded, he assured us to the contrary and rode av/ay 
amid the cheers of his admiring friends. He evidently thought 
not of self, though ever anxious and vigilant for the welfare of 
his command, doing all possible to promote their success as well 
as 'to save them from needless exposure. 

When the infantry again pressed forward, Col. Lindsay re- 
ceived an order to report to General Bragg, by whom he was di- 
rected to support a body of infantry further up the hill. Then 
came an order through a stafif-officer of General Breckenridge to 
place the regiment near General Jackson's column. Here we 
waited till another staff-officer brought an order to Colonel Lind- 
say to move the regiment with all possible speed towards the 
river. We rode in a sweeping gallop till we came to the place 
where General Prentiss had just surrendered, when Colonel 
Lindsay reported to General Polk for orders. It was now after 5 
o'clock, and Col. Lindsay was directed to take command of all the 
cavalry on this part of the held, to go up the river, and to cut 
off the enemy's retreat. In obedience to this order, Col. Lindsay 
attempted to collect other cavalry, meantime directing Lieutenant- 
Colonel Miller to take command of the First Mississippi. The 



Mississippi Historical Society. 

ever impetuous and darin;^; Colonel Miller at once put himself 
at the head of the regiment aud shouted: ''Charge boys, charge! 
Colonel Lindsay says, Charge I'' Then we ru:-hed at full speed 
for more tlian a quarter of a mile, yelling like devils incarnate. 
A Federal battery was observed ahout three hundred yards 
ahead, with horses attached, evidently intent on makir.g it^ escape. 
But on discovering us the artillerymeu turned, unlimbcred. and 
made preparations to open fire upon us. But \ve came on them so 
rapidly, they could neither fire nor escape. Every man, every 
horse, and every gun v/as captured. By this time Col. Lindsay, 
who failed to find other cavalry, had ridden to the front of our 
column. Giving orders to Col. Miller to send this captured Mich- 
igan battery, with its six brass Napoleons and all its caissons, 
under escort to General Polk, and seeing anuiher battery just 
across a deep ravine, he put himself at the head of Foote's com- 
pany, the Noxubee Cavalry, and rushed forward to seize it. We 
at once captured one of the caissons, but coming upon the battery 
\ve found ourselves in the immediate presence of Federal in- 
fantry drawn up in line, evidently belonging to Nelson's division 
of Buell's army, who w^ere just taking position on the field. They 
fired at us ; but, from excitement, they iired so wildly and so 
high in the air, that we all escaped unharmed into the ravine and 
there rejoined the regiment. Some years ago, 1 may state in this 
connection, at a Reunion of Blues and Grays on the battlefield of 
Shiloh, Dr. T. J. Deupree and I had a brief but delightful inter- 
view with that great soldier and cultured gentleman, General Don 
Carlos Buell, in which he told us that he v/ell remembered seeing 
that little company of cavalry dash into his lines like dare-devils, 
as if resolved to rob him of his battery, nolens z'olcns, support or 
no support. He seemed greatly astonished when we told him 
that we escaped without the loss of a man or a horse, and he said 
he saw no reason why every saddle had not been emptied by the 
volley his infantry fired into our ranks. 

Col. Lindsay reported to his superiors wliat he had seen. Some 
of us had watered our horses in the Tennessee. Grant's army 
was crowded in disorder and confusion about the landing, every 
one anxious to make his escape across the river ; men and even 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 35 

officers were afloat on logs, making their way towards the oppo- 
site sliore. A semicircle of artillery, mainly siege guns intended 
for use at the anticipated siege of Corinth since most of their 
field batteries had been captured, was about all that intervened 
Ix^tween Grant's army and destruction, in as much as but few of 
Buell's men were- yet in line of battle. This was, indeed, the 
supreme moment for a general and sweeping advance of the 
Confederates to drive the Federals into the river or force a capit- 

. I shall not attempt to describe the splendor of the Federal 
camp nor the boundless army-stores and munitions that fell into 
our hands; nor shall I tell of the efforts made by Confederate 
officers to prevent pillaging, nor speak of the Irishman with his 
captured barrel of whiskey, nor of the dead and dying, nor of 
the .horrors of the hospitals, nor of the burning woods ignited 
by Federal shells and causing untold agonies to helpless wounded 
till God in mercy sent rain from heaven to extinguish the flames. 
I shalj not- tell of the long hours of picket and vidette duty on 
Sunday night, nor of the wTetched condition of our soldiers, so 
utterly exhausted that they slept like dead men in spite of the 
shells hurled incessantly upon them from Federal gunboats and 
in* spite of the torrents of rain that so thoroughly deluged the 
ground upon which they bivouacked. 

Monday morning, the reinforced and thoroughly reorganized 
enemy took the initiative. The 25,000 men of Buell's army, 
comparatively fresh, added to the survivors of Grant's, say about 
15,000, made a total of some 40.000 men against which tlie Con- 
federates could muster scarcely 20,000, nOne of whom were 
fresh. The battle began at day-light and raged furiously from 
right to left for about six hours. Notwithstanding the heavy 
odds against them, even at 1 o'clock the Confederates had not 
receded from the position in which they had concentrated as 
soon as it was certain another battle must be fought. But their 
ranks were fearfully depleted. They had, indeed, been able to 
hold in check the superior numbers of the enemy only by bril- 
liant and sanguinary charges, involving fearful loss of life. At 
this hour, fewer than 15,000 men were in line. Seeing, there- 

36 Mississippi Historical ScKiety. 

fore, the unprofitable nature of the struggle, General Ikauregarrl 
determined not to prolong it further. Accordingly, about 2 
o'clock, the retrograde movement began, and it was executed 
with a steadiness that would have done credit to veterans of a 
hundred battlefields. Col. Lindsay had been ordered to take 
position on the Bark road, and during the day we had supported 
successively the divisions of Breckenridge and Hardee, and in 
the afternoon we covered the retreat of Hardee. Along with 
Forrest's cavalry and Wheeler's, skirmishing with the enemy 
and at times driving him back, we retired sullenly and were 
among the last to leave the field. 

As a fitting conclusion of this story of Shiloh, I submit a brief 
extract from the official report of General Hardee : 

"General Johnston about 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon 
brought up the reserve under Breckenridge. Deploying it in 
echelon by brigades with admirable skill and rapidity, he turned 
the enemy's left and, conducting the division in person, swept 
down the river towards Pittsburg Landing, cheering and ani- 
"mating the men and driving the enemy in wild disorder to the 
shelter of their gunboats. At this moment of supreme interest, 
it was our misfortune to lose the commanding general, who fell 
mortally wounded at 2 o'clock, and expired in a few moments 
in a ravine near where Breckenridge's division had charged un- 
der his eye. This disaster caused a lull in the attack on the right, 
and precious hours were wasted. It is in my opinion the. candid 
belief of intelligent men that but for this calamity v/e would 
have before sunset achieved a triumph, not only signal in the 
annals of this war, but memorable in all history". 

Before resuming the thread of my narrative, I pause long 
enough to insert just here a list of those members of the Noxu- 
bee Cavalry who took part in this great battle of Shiloh, since 
their descendants in years to come will find pleasure in reading 
their names : 

H. W. Foote, Captain ; T. J. Deupree, 2nd Lieutenant ; C. ^L 
Hunter, 1st Lieutenant; R. O. Wier, 3d Lieutenant; W. H. 
Foote, 2d Sergeant ; G. H. Dantzler, 3d Sergeant ; F. M. Maul- 
din, 4th Sergeant; W. D. Deupree, 5th Sergeant; L. E. Eiland, 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 37 

1st Corporal; F. E. Carlton, 2(1 Corporal; G. W. Praytor, 3d 
Corporal ; J. C. Jarnagin, 4th Corporal ; and privates, W. E 
Bcasley, A. J. Bosvvell, Mike Callahan, E. C Clements, W. H 
Crawford, J. Courtes, F. S. Cox, J. E. Deupree (Texas Joe), J 
G. Deupree W. D. Deupree, Jr., W. V. Dooly, W. W. Douglass 
S. B. Day, J. A. Grant, F. B. Greer, J. Greer, A. Greer, T. J 
Goodwin, O. M. Higgins, J. E. Hardy, G. W. Hinton, H. M 
Hunter, W. Hunter, W. A. Hughes, H. C Howlett, J. B. Hud- 
son, H. C. Haynes, W, J. Hudson, C. S. Jenkins, P. H. Jones, 
R. H. Joiner, W. Jackson, S. Jackson, R. W. Keown, N. Lynch, 
'A. J. Lyon, M. Lyon, J. J. May, J. McCormick, L. Perkins, T. 
M. Pierce, W. Pagan, W. B. Porter, M. Ruff, W. R. Randall, 
George Sherrod, A. G. Wesson, J. C. Williams, R. L Walker, 
W." P. "Wilson, K. E. White, H, Yates. 


WTien our army reached Corinth, the First Mississippi Cav- 
alry was stationed on the left wing at Chiwalla. Here Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Miller tendered his resignation. Patriotism and ar- 
dent courage prevailed over sensitiveness till after the battle, 
when indignation asserted itself that he had been superseded; 
and he returned to Pontotoc to resume his work as minister of 
the gospel, a work dear to his heart and for which he was pe- 
culiarly fitted. To show how he was esteemed by the regiment, 
I shall rnake an extract from a private letter written some years 
ago by Colonel Joseph E. Deupree, of the Texas Division of 
Confederate Veterans, now residing near Bonham, Texas. The 
extract follows : 

"Of course, you remember, John, how we captured that Bat- 
tery on Sunday afternoon. Lieutenant-Colonel Miller was tem- 
porarily in command. He had just dismounted for some pur- 
pose when you and I exclaimed: *Look! Colonel, they are Yan- 
kees !' He looked and instantly saw they were Yankees and per- 
ceived what they were doing. Springing to his feet, he shouted, 
*Charge, boys, charge!*; and flinging him.self into his saddle, he 
put spurs to his horse and led the charge. I can never forget 
those words nor the Colonel's excited manner at the time. . » 

38 Mississippi Historical Society. 

I always loved Colonel Miller. He was a brave man, a patriot, 
and a Christian. He should have due credit for his quickness 
of comprehension and prompt action at that critical moment. 
The slightest hesitation would have resulted in the annihilation 
of our company, if not the destruction of the regiment; for, as 
you remember, we were in front. Never a more timely order 
was given, and never- one more gallantly and promptly obeyed. 
Yes, John, from that day till now I have always felt that I owed 
my life to Colonel Miller, and I was very sorry when he saw 
proper to tender his resignation. Honored and blessed be his 

- memory I" 

In concluding this tribute, I quote a condensed statement of 
facts concerning his untimely death, as portrayed by Dr. John 
M. Waddell : 

"Brother ^liller was on his way to Ripley to fulfill an engage- 
ment with brother \Vm. A. Gray, pastor of this church, to preach 
for him; and, as he drew near to Ripley, on Sabbath morning, 
March 22d, he learned that the village was held by Colonel 
Hurst's regiment of renegade Tennesseeans. Know'ing that he 
was particularly obnoxious to them because of his strong Sou:h- 
ern sympathy, his zeal and his military services, he determined 
to go back to Pontotoc. About two miles from Ripley, he met 

* two of Hurst's men, escorting tvro prisoners. He was too near 
to attempt an escape by flight. They overpowered him, dragged 
him from his horse, and shot him through the head and through 
the heart. Either wound was mortal. Tliey robbed has person 
of $G0, a gold watch, gold spectacles, silk hai, sermon, and a set 
of artificial teeth leaving his dead body lying in the road where 
the foul and dastardly murder was committed. Negroes drew 
the corpse to a place of safety till it could be sent to Ripley. The 
murderers reported that they had killed a 'Scccsli Colonel,' be- 
cause he had resisted arrest. But the testimony of the prisoners 
who had witnessed the tragedy was altogether different. By 
request of Mrs. Buchanan, a devoted friend, the body of Colo- 
nel Miller was given into her care and subsequently taken to 
Pontotoc for interment beside several dear little ones, who had 
preceded him to the glory-world." 

llie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 39 


After the Noxubee Cavalry went into active service, the Nox- 
ubee Troopers still maintained .their organization, holding them- 
selves ready for any emergency. In ^larch, 1802, they tendered 
their services to the Confederal'^ Government, being ofiicered 
as follows: James Rives, Capiain ; Charley Dowling, 1st Lieu- 
tenant; R. O. Beasley, 2nd Lieutenant; J. R. Bealle, 3rd Lieu- 
tenant ; and Mirabeau Craven, Orderly Sergeant. Being mus- 
tered in at Columbus, they began their march through the coun- 
try to Corinth. At Cotton Gin, Lieutenant Dowling was stand- 
ing beside his horse, when the animal shook himself and thus 
caused a pistol in the holster on the saddle-horn to be dis- 
charged. The ball struck the Lieutenant in the leg and lodged 
in his heel. He was sent home and in a fev/ days he died of the 
wound. Thus, even before getting to the army, a most valuable 
officer was lost, — a lieutenant, honored and loved by the entire 
company, as well as by countless friends at home. Reaching 
Corinth April Gth, the company proceeded on the '7th towards 
Pittsburg Landing. In the late afternoon, they met Beaure- 
gard's army. F'alling in with other cavalry, they helped to 
cover the retreat. On the 8th, the company was regularly as- 
signed to the First jNIississippi Cavalry, to be known afterwards as 
Co. F and to form with Co. G the Noxubee Squadron. The regi- 
ment was near Chiwalla under the command of Col. A. J. Lind- 
say, and' Captain Frank A. i^Iontgomiery, Senior Captain, was 
second in comm.and. I may take occasion to remark here, that 
Colonel Lindsay was a fearless soldier and a most capable officer 
when in action, but ordinarily he seemed lacking in vigor and 
energy. His chief pleasure when in camp, and about his only 
employment, was a game of solitaire. Consequently, most of his 
duties fell on Captain F. A. ^lontgomery. Some weeks later, at 
our reorganization, Colonel Lindsay left us to go west. 

While at Qiiwalla, Lieutenant R. O. Beasley in command of a 
picket was surprised and fiercely assailed by a battalion 
of Federal cavalry. He stood his ground bravely till 
his small force was overwhelmed. On coming back to camp, the 

40 Mississippi Historical Society. 

men reported that Bishop and Lieutenant Beasley had been killed. 
On reestabhshiniT- the picket post after the enemy had with- 
drawn, the body of Bishop was found, and then it was supposed 
that Lieutenant Beasley had been wounded and captured. The 
locahty was hilly and densely wooded ; and on the following day 
some men on picket going down the hillside discovered Lieuten- 
ant Beasley, still alive but unconscious. A bullet had struck 
him in the centre of his forehead; and he had evidently walked 
down the hill, possibly in search of water, for he had unbuckled 
his sabre and his pistol was lying beside him. He lived some 
hours and died the soldier's death. About this time, too, another 
gallant member of this company and a prominent and useful 
citizen of Noxubee County, Dr. T. M. Deupree, died of measles. 
Thus th^ Noxubee Troopers in less than one month of service 
lost four of their best members. It may not be amiss just here 
to mention that the two sons of Lieutenant Beasley, AVilliam and 
Jerry, members of the Noxubee cavalry, afterwards gave their 
lives for their country. 

As the First Mississippi Cavalry one moonless night moved 
along a narrow road, through a heavily timbered country, some 
miles noVthwest of Corinth, the Noxubee Squadron in front and 
Lieutenant Wier commanding the advance-guard, we were sud- 
denly halted by the ringing words, "Who comes there?" to which 
Lieutenant Wier replied : "Friends." "Advance, friends, and 
give the countersign" was the next challenge. This scribe, be- 
ing one of the front four and w^ithin tw'enty paces of the chal- 
lenger, suspicious and apprehensive, quietly reined "bobtailed 
Bremer" to one side and waited till Lieutenant Wier had ridden 
forward and the Federal officer was heard to say: "Give up your 
amis and disynoimt". He then wheeled and rode at full speed 
till he met Captain Foote at the head of the Squadron, to whom 
he reported what had occurred. Our column was halted for the 
night, but early in the morning we advanced and easily swept 
the Federal cavalry from our front. Wier and his party of six 
were sent to Chicago and held as prisoners till the end of the 

The character of our service for some weeks may be gathered 


Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcuprec. 41 

from the following letter written by comrade H. D. Foote, and 
publishGd in the MACON BEACON : 

In camp near Bethel, Tenn., April 30, 1862. 
Dear Mr. Ferris: — 

We have had another little round with the enemy, which is 
considered a very small affair, but for the information of folks 
at home I will relate it.^ 

On Friday morning last our Colonel was ordered to march 
with his regiment from Lexington to Purdy, a point between 
Lexington and Corinth. We arrived at Colonel Brewer's camp 
Sunday at 12 o'clock, pitched our tents in the woods remaining 
quiet till Monday night, when our sweet sleep was disturbed by 
one of our pickets coming in with a report of a Federal advance,. 
which how^ever proved to be a false alarm. Next morning, Tues- 
day the 20th, pickets came in from the Savannah and Pittsburg 
road and reported the enemy advancing in heavy columns of 
cavalry and infantry. A heavy skirmish was kept up by the 
sharpshooters on the respective sides for several hours, or until 
about 2 o'clock, when the enemy retired and has not been heard 
from since. Their strength is a matter of doubt, variously es- 
timated at from 1.000 to 3,000. Ours did not exceed 500. 

While their sharpshooters were engaged with us, others 
among them less courageous, remained in Purdy to apply the 
torch to dwellings of men wdio dared to be Southern in senti- 
ment. It was trying to the feelings of our men to see those dark 
clouds of smoke rolling up from the burning houses of honest, 
patriotic citizens, innocent and helpless women and children. 

Yours truly, 
/ (Signed) H. D. Foote. 


Bragg withdrew his army to Tupelo. Many enlistments, or- 
iginally but for one year, had expired, and reorganization was 
imperative. The First Mississippi Cavalry, as did most of the 
army, reenlisted for the war. The election of officers w^as sup- 
erintended by Col. A. J. Lindsay, who then bade us an affection- 
ate farewell. Capt. R. h. Pinson was elected Colonel by a ma- 
jority of one over Capt. PI. W' . Foote; Capt. F. A. Montgomery 
was elected Lieutenant-Colonel; Capt. E. G. Wheeler, }vIajor; 
Lucius Sykes, Adjutant General; William Beasley, Sergeant- 

42 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Major; T. B. Dillard, Quartermaster; Robert Ligon, Commis- 
sary; Dr. C L. xMontg-omery, Surgeon; and Dr. A. C. Ferrell, 
Assistant Surgeon. The officers chosen for Company G were: 
J. A. King, Captain ; T. J. Deupree, First Lieutenant ; S. B. 
Day, Second Lieutenant; \V. H. Foote, Third Lieutenant; and 
J. A. Greer, Orderly Sergeant. In Company F, J. R. Beaile was 
elected Captain ; Mirabeau Craven, First Lieutenant ; Scribner 
Smith, Second Lieutenant ; John Lyle, Third Lieutenant ; and 
Thomas Stevens, Orderly Sergeant. The Captains chosen by the 
other companies were: J. R. Taylor, J. L. Simmons, Charles 
Marshall, T. B. Turner, W. V. Lester, J. R. Chandler, Gadi Her- 
rin, and G. N. Wheeler. 


Within a few days after cur reorganization. Col. Pinson was 
ordered to report to General Villipigue, whose headquarters were 
then at Abbeville, Miss. Flere our squadron was in camp near 
a large mill-pond in an old field that furnished excellent grazing. 
We were in the habit day after day of hobbling our horses and 
turning them loose to graze to their own satisfaction. One 
mornirrg as Sam Jackson and a number of otliers were fishing 
in the mill-pond, Sam's sorrel pony quietly, hobbled as he was, 
walked into the pond to drink. He soon was in deeper water 
than he needed for mere drinking purposes ; and with his head 
tied dov/n close to his fore-foot, he became strangled and was 
drowned before anyone reached him. Poor Sam, after a long 
and solemn pause, out of the deep anguish of his soul, though 
to the amusement of his comrades, exclaimed: "A'oix', isn't this 
a hell of a tale to zvrite Jiome to Pap?" He wept, they laughed. 
However, they cheered him and helped him. He bought an- 
other horse, of which he took better care, and ever afterwards 
as before made a valiant and faithful soldier. We were here 
for several weeks, and our horses grew fat and sleek. One after 
another, companies were detailed to burn cotton in the Delta to 
prevent its falling into Federal hands. It v/as an unpleasant 
service, and no incidents worthy of note are recalled. The Boli- 
var Troopers, Captain Gadi Herrin, were fortunate in being al- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deicpree. 43 

lowed to disperse and spend a few days at their homes, and our 
Lieutenant-Colonel F. A. Montgomery was also dclig-hted to be 
in command of the companies thus detailed, as it gave him like- 
wise an opportunity to spend some days and nights with his 


We were next ordered to report to Col. Wm. H. Jackson, af- 
terwards known as "R'ed Jackson", in camp on Coldwater River, 
not far from Holly Springs. We were now brigaded with the 
Seventh Tennessee Cavalry, a most gallant regiment, with which 
we served either in the same brigade or the same division till 
near the close of the war. Jackson was a thoroughly trained 
soldier and rapidly grew in favor with officers and men. Though 
lacking, perhaps, in brilliancy and dash, he certainly possessed 
solidity, good sense, and firmness, so that he won the implicit 
confidence of Van Dorn, Forrest, and Joseph E. Johnston, — 
enough to be said of any soldier. We soon began a series of 
marches and countermarches through^ northern ^lississippi to 
Tennessee and back. Each expedition closely resembled the one 
preceding and following, and to attempt to narrate a tithe of the 
incidents that occurred in them would be tedious to writer and 
reader. L shall, therefore, touch only some of the higher places 
as I proceed with this narrative. On one of the expeditions, 
which I cannot now clearly differentiate from some others so 
closely like it, a detachment from our command failed by a very 
narrow margin to capture Gen'l U. S. Grant at the home of Jo- 
siah Dek>ach. This adventure doubtless gave rise to the stor}', 
long current after the war, that because of the timely warning 
given Grant by Deloach, that after he became President he ap- 
pointed Deloach postmaster at ^Memphis. 

There was soon gathered here the largest cavalry force we 
had yet seen. In addition to Jackson's and Pinson's regiments, 
there were the resrirnents of Wirt Adams and Bob McCullough 
and, perhaps, one or two others. General Frank Armstrong, 
who had but recently been made a brigadier-general, arrived 
from Virginia, assumed command, and proceeded to cut the M. 

44 Mississippi Historical Society. 

& O. R. R., on which Rosccrantz' army at Corinth depended for 
supplies. As we, advanced by way of Grand Junction, we en- 
countered a Federal force near Middleburg on Auc^ust 20th. 
Here the Second Illinois Cavalry under Colonel Hocrg made a 
gallant charge upon the Second Missouri under Colonel McCul- 
loug-h. Colonels Hogg and McCullough met with drawn sabres 
and fought desperately till Tom Turner, a young Missourian, 
by a well-aimed shot killed Colonel Hoi^g and, in all probability, 
thus saved the life of his own colonel. Captam Cliampion and 
some other Missourians w^ere killed, as well as some Federals. 


After' cutting the railroad at various points and tcarin?^ up 
many miles of track, w-e crossed the Hatchie River and moved 
towards Medon. Near the depot we found a strong Federal 
force well posted and protected by cotton bales. A charge on 
horseback by Co. E of Jackson's regiment resulted only in the 
useless loss of several good men and the serious w^ounding of 
'Captain Bassett. The Noxubee Squadron and tw^o other com- 
panies of the F"irst Mississippi were ordered to dismount and 
prepare to assault the Federal position. But, just as we were 
adjusting the line-up, large reinforcements for the Federals be- 
gan to arrive, wdien much to our gratification v;e were ordered 
to remount. We withdrew to a creek and bivouacked for the 
night. Early on the morning of September 1st, 1SG2, we began 
our return to Mississippi by a road leading towards Denmark, 
Tenn. We were all greatly fatigued and decidedly hungry, hav- 
ing -been away from our wagons for a v^-eek. No one now^ ex- 
pected further fighting but all anticipated a long and tiresome 
march, as we were headed south. The Noxubee Squadron was 
■ in front of cur regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel ^^lontgomery 
was riding at its head with Captain J. R. Bealle of Co. F. a gen- 
ial, jovial gentleman, who somehow seemed unusually reticent, 
for he was usually full of life and fun and frolic; and like Gen- 
eral J. E. B. Stuart, was a fine vocalist and took delight on the 
march in entertaining all wuthin reach of his far-carrying voice. 


llie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 45 

by his comic, semi-sentimental and patriotic airs. What could 
be the matter with Captain Bcalle now? Colonel Montgomery 
could not tell, till Capt. Eealle quietly remarked that he was 
deeply impressed by a presentiment that he was to be killed this 
day before getting back to Mississippi soil. Colonel Montgom- 
ery told him laughingly that his presentiment signified nothing 
and that he himself would also be laughing at it by to-morrow, 
adding that we would not see another enemy on this raid. But 
before this remark was finished, firing was heard a mile in front, 
and W€ were ordered forward in a gallop. Jackson's regiment 
in Britain's Lane, not far from Denmark, had niet a force which 
had been sent out from Jackson, Teun., to intercept us. It con- 
sisted of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and was strongly posted 
directly across our line of march. The Seventh Tennessee, Jack- 
son's regiment, charged at once and dispersed the Federal cav- 
alry, which retreated in confusion towards Jackson, Tenn., and 
were not seen again in the battle. But the infantry were too 
numerous and too well posted to be dealt with so effectively. 
They held their ground valiantly. Our regiment, having come 
up at full speed, were dismounted and gallantly led in a charge 
by Colonel Pinson against the brigade of infantry lying flat on 
the ground just below the brow of the hill and firing their rifles 
in our faces. It was intensely hot and our men suffered greatly 
but never faltered. Federal batteries and rifles soon cut down 
the corn in the field through wliich we advanced, but forward 
the rush continued. Though this was to m.any of the men their 
first baptism of fire, yet in it the regiment as a whole displayed 
a steadiness which forecast that admirable courage aftervvards 
exhibited on many bloody fields. The ground was rough, broken 
by ditches and gullies, but the men moved across it in hot haste 
and speedily drove the infantry of the enemy from their chosen 
position. They retreated precipitately to the next hill. Then 
Colonel Wirt Adams led his regiment, formed in a column by 
fours, in a brilliant charge through a lane against the battery, 
which was captured and sent to the rear. The Federal infan- 
try, now reenforced and on a wooded hill, poured a wirhering 
fire on Adams' column and compelled its withdrawal. I take 

46 Mississippi Historical Society. 

occasion just here to remark in passing that General Adams was 
a splendid gentleman and chivalric soldier, whose sad fate years 
afterwards it was to become involved in a sircet-duel in Jack- 
son, Miss., with Mr. John Martin, a newspaper editor, in which 
both participants were killed. 

Our loss in this action w^as considerable, especially in the First 
Mississippi. But how any one escaped alive from that cornfield 
is among the things inexplicable in war. One of the most prom- 
inent of the more than half-hundred killed was Capt. John R. 
Bealle of Co. F, the Noxubee Troopers, whose presentiment was 
quickly and all too surely realized. Lieutenant Matthev^'s of 
Marshall's company was also killed. Captain Chandler was so 
seriously wounded as afterwards to be unfitted for field service, 
and he became a surgeon and rendered valuable help in hospi- 
tals. Lieutenant Craven was made Captain of Company F, Lieu- 
tenants Smith and Lyle promoted in regular ' sequence, and 
Thomas Stevens was made Third Lieutenant. We had force 
enough to envelop the enemy and it should have been done. Pin- 
•son and ^lontgomery both urged a renewal of our attack by a 
flank movement which inevitably Vvould have resulted in the cap- 
ture of the entire Federal force. But this was not to be. To tlie 
surprise of all, we abandoned our position under orders to v.ith- 
draw and thus lost the fruits of our costly victory. Instead of 
attacking separately and successively, all our reginients sliould 
have imited in the attack, and complete destruction or capture 
of the enemy would have rewarded our eitcrt, 


By a circuitous route we got back into the read some miles 
south, and without again meeting the enemy readied our camp, 
all of us* exceedingly hungry and anxious to draw rations. 
Within a few days, General Armstrong left us. It was said that 
he had prematurely assumed command as brigadier-general, it 
being some months before he actually received his commission, 
and that "Red Jackson's'' commission, when received, really an- 
tedated that of Frank Armstroncr. We all know that afterwards 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 47 

Jackson outranked Armstrong, for Jackson commanded our di- 
vision when Armstrong commanded our brigade. Soon all the 
other cavalry were ordered elsewhere, leaving but Jackson's and 
Pinson's regiments under command of Jackson, as senior colonel. 


It goes without saying that our men were discouraged by the 
results of the raid under General Armstrong, as it seemed that 
we paid dearly for w-hat little we had gained. The weather con- 
tinued hot and dry, and horses were in bad condition. True sol- 
diers, however, wdien well treated in camp, rapidly recover from 
the eflfects of any disaster, great or small: and horses seem 
instinctively, in this regard, to follow the example of their rid- 
'ers. How sweet was the rest now! But it could not be long. 
Van Dorn and Price were planning the details of an assault on 
Rosecranz at Corinth. Lieutenant-Colonel }\Iontgomery was or- 
<fered to take four companies of the First Mississippi, includ- 
ing -the Noxubee Squadron, and four of the Seventh Tennes- 
see, and go in search of Colonel Grierson and his Sixth Illinois 
Cavalry, who were on a raid from [Memphis. The Noxubee 
Squadron was in advance, followed by the two other companies 
of Mississippians and by the four companies of Tennesseeans. 
We passed through Eyhalia and Cocknun and crossed Cold- 
water on the road to Hernando. Turning north, we recrossed 
the Coldwater on a rude bridge at HoUoway's, about ten miles 
northwest of Byhalia. We seemed to be making but an ordin- 
ary march. When, however, we reached the foothills of tlie east 
side, word was passed down the line that Grierson had crossed 
the bridge behind us and was preparing to fall upon our rear. 
He had thrown his regiment into line on both sides of the road. 
In consequence, there was more or less commotion in our ranks 
along with some degree of excitement. An order was promptly 
given by ^lontgomery to wheel about by fours and countermarch 
to meet the enemy. This movement put the Tennesseeans in 
front. Immediately, there were signs that the enemy were near. 
In fact, they were really much nearer than we had suspected. The 

48 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Tennesseeans and Mississlppians were thrown into column, front 
into line by companies, — the first company unfortunately very 
near the enemy, who had stealthily advanced on foot, well con- 
cealed by the dense underg-rowth. They instantly opened a brisk 
fire with their carbines, which meant certain death to men and 
horses of the front company of Tennesseeans. As a matter of 
course, there was a bolt to the rear, and what is known to all 
participants as the Coldwater Stampede began. Nothing could 
surpass it in excitement and confusion. When the first company 
in retirement had reached the second, great momentum had been 
acquired and the excited horses were beyond control, as they 
dashed headlong through the ranks of the second company, 
which (including both men and horses) instantly caught the in- 
fection of demoralization; and the same happened in succession 
to all the remaining companies as the on-rush passed over each, 
so that all were involved and the rout was complete. True, some 
men spoke encouragingly to comrades, even denouncing the re- 
treat as cowardly, thus manifesting in-born courage or personal 
.pride and self-esteem. But however much some were inclined 
to stand firm, concert of action was out of the question ; then 
those, who at first had resolved to fight, were soon getting away 
as fast as the others. While we did not take to the woods, there 
was no delay in crossing a high staked-and-ridered- fence into a 
cornfield with the rankest growth of crab grass we had ever 
seen. We ran down the rows till we had crossed the entire field 
and put another fence between ourselves and our pursuers. 
Now, everybody was Vv'illing to halt, and the command was at 
once reorganized and brought into line. Smarting with shame 
and mortification, these Mississippians and Tennesseeans, would 
have then and there put up the best fight of their lives, could 
they have been promptly led into action. Various reasons were 
given for the disaster, but none brought consolation. Clearly, 
we had been outgencralled by one of the shrewdest and most 
alert of Federal cavalr^nien, indeed, the first to achieve a repu- 
tation on his side as a bold and successful raider. 

In describing this affair in his ''Reniiniscoices", Lieutenant- 
Colonel Montgomery writes, as follows: ''Taking three or four 

llie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 49 

days' cooked rations without wagons, I moved as rapidly as pos- 
sible and crossed the Coldwater on a bridge not far from Her- 
nado, with scouts out in every direction to see if I could hear of 
Colonel Grierson. But I could not locate him ; and, as I had been 
gone about as long as had been contemplated, I recrossed the 
river by the same bridge iu order to return to camp. I had pro- 
ceeded, perhaps, two miles from the bridge, had gotten out of 
tlie bottom into the foothills, when Captain Jack Bowles over- 
took me and reported that he had a small party of scouts and 
had been skirmishing with Grierson beyond the Coldwater about 
five miles from"~the bridge, and that Grierson was coming on 
this way. I at once countermarched and went to find him, which 
I did much sooner than I expected. The Coldwater bottom 
? where I reentered it was all woods so dense that we could see 

but a little way. We had proceeded to within about a half-mile 
from the bridge, when our advance after firing a few shots came 
back in hot haste. I had barely time to form: in fact, my lines 
were not fully formed, when I saw that Grierson's whole regi- 
ment was impetuously charging. After one ineffectual volley, 
my men gave way for awhile with the loss of two killed in 
Wheeler's company and several wounded in the command and, 
perhaps, some few killed. Confusion lasted but a .short time, 
for the men were easily rallied; and, in our turn, we advanced. 
Colonel Grierson having found a larger force than he expected, 
retired immediately; and, before we reached the Coldwater, he 
had recrossed and torn up the bridge. I had no means of re- 
pairing it, and besides I could not have overtaken him. Remain- 
ing on the ground that night and giving each of the brave men 
who had fallen a soldier's burial in a soldier's grave, I returned 
to camp. While these patriots fell in no great battle, they were 
heroes all the same, and they deserve all the honors that can be 
paid to our heroic dead, most of whom sleep in unknown graves, 
remembered, perhaps, as in this instance, by a few surviving 

Among others killed, I recall the name of John Allen, of Co. 
E, Seventh Tennessee; and the substitute of Cy Jenkins of the 
Noxubee Cavalry was also killed, whose name I cannot recall ; 

50 Mississippi Historical Society. 

but Cy was ever afterwards reported as dead. With some other 
intrepid spirits of our Squadron, W. G. White of the Noxubee 
Troopers stood in the firing hue till his horse was shot and killed 
under him ; and, as the Squadron fell back, White was captured. 
He was sent to Cairo, Illinois ; and, within a few weeks, he was 
sent down the Mississippi River to Vicksburg and exchanged. 
Soon afterards, he rejoined his company and did valiant service 
till the end of the war. 

"Shortly afterwards", saj^s Colonel Montgomery in his Remin- 
iscences, "Colonel Jackson made full inquiry into this afi'air in 
the presence of all the officers of the two regiments, and not only 
acquitted me of all blame but praised my conduct." 

Later, however, Jackson did prefer charges against Montgom- 
ery, as to which Colonel Montgomery states, "I was courtmar- 
tialed and promptly acquitted". 


Our camp was moved nearer to Holly Springs on a road lead- 
ing north. Grant had many garrisons posted east of ^lemphis 
and was concentrating a large army at Grand Junction, where 
he could be supplied by the two railroads there, evidently pre- 
paring to invade ^lississippi. About the middle of September, 
Jackson with his own and Pinson's regiment had been ordered 
to reconnoiter in the direction of Corinth. Going by way of Rip- 
ley, and thence turning north, then proceeding till he had reached 
the main Corinth road, parallel with the railroad, he turned east, 
intending to cross the Big Hatchie where the railroad crossed it. 
But late in the afternoon as the sun was setting, Pinson's regi- 
ment in front, we reached an old village, called Pocahontas, 
perched on quite a hill, whence the road sloped gradually down to 
Davis' Bridge, perhaps half a mile away. The village seemed 
deserted, but we caught here a Federal cavalryman from whom 
we learned that his regiment had gone into camp just across the 
river. He had eluded the guard and was on a private foraging 
adventure for himiself and his messmates, Pinson promptly in- 
formed Jackson of the proximity of Ingersoll's Eleventh Illinois 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 51 

Cavalry with a company of U. S. Regulars, going into camp be- 
yond the river. Jackson's laconic reply was, "Charge them". 
Pinson, without the loss of a moment, led his regiment in a 
sweeping gallop across the rickety bridge, overruiming the pick- 
ets, straight into the camp of the enemy, many of whom were 
gathering corn from a field just across the road. The Seventh 
Tennessee brought up the rear, waking the echoes with a rebel 
yell. Firing was promiscuous, but casualties were few. Pinson 
was the only. Confederate wounded. Riding up in the gloom to 
a squad of men he supposed to belong to his regiment, he found 
them to be Federals and ordered them to surrender, when one of 
them fired on him. Here, Pinson manifested the spirit and cour- 
age of the hero, while he was borne to the Davis' residence on a 
cot we had procured for the purpose. There was good reason to 
believe the ball had penetrated his intestines and that he was mor- 
tally wounded; but he spoke cheerfully to anxious inquirers and 
said smilingly : "Boys, it is a small matter ; I shall soon be all right 

The spoils were great. We brought ofi' 150 fine Illinois horses 
with their accountrements and arms, and captured some 60 un- 
wounded prisoners; but m.ost of the enemy effected their escape 
in the dense undergrowth to the left of the road. These fine 
horses, pistols, and sabres, should have been distributed among 
our men who needed them, and their inferior animals and equip- 
ment turned over to the ordinance department. This could have 
been done under a board of survey in such a way as not only to 
increase the efficiency of our command but also to stimulate the 
men for future enterprises. But we did not get even a halter. 
All went to supply the needs of other commands. There was one 
particularly fine horse among those captured, evidently some- 
what of a pet with his owner. Jim Weather by, a Tennesseean» 
from Somerville, was not slow to discover the fine qualities of 
this steed, as well as his "smart trick", and he soon had him can- 
tering along, as if h.e had owned him always. But alas! this 
beautiful brown with two white feet had to be turned in. and 
Wcatherby was disconsolate. Thereafter, when legitimate cap- 
tures fell in our wav, "munt' was the word. Colonel Pinson w^as 

52 Mississippi Historical Society. 

sent home in the care of a surgeon. As Colonel Jackson was de- 
termined to get off with the prisoners at once, we marched nearly- 
all night towards Ripley. 


It was the last of September. Van Dorn was ready to move 
against Corinth with Price and Lovcll as division commanders. 
The movement began from Ripley with an army well equipped, 
well fed, and in fine spirits. As there had been no rain for many 
weeks, the dusty roads and scarcity of water made severe the 
necessary marches to effect the concentration of the troops. But 
the prospect of a successful assault on the works of Corinth 
with the capture of Rosecrans and his army made buoyant the 
spirits of our soldiers. Jackson's cavalry led the way, Vv^ith 
Montgomery in front in command of the First ^lississippi. We 
had ridden about ten miles and reached Cliiwalla hills, when we 
encountered a considerable body of Federal cavalry, which Jack- 
son ordered the j\Iississippians to charge. We did it in gallant 
style and readily swept the Federals from the field, pursuing them 
several miles. This was the first day of October. 

The next day we picketed the roads, while preparations and 
dispositions were made for the assault. On the 3rd, the earth 
trembled with the roar of artillery and the rattle of small arms, 
as Price drove the enemy before him north of the yi. 8z C. rail- 
road. It was a struggle to the death, in which both sides lost 
heavily. The Federal positions had been strengthened by heavy 
earthworks and fallen timber, making very difficult the approach 
to the main fort. All day it went well with the Confederates,- 
though the killed and wounded were numerous. Being in the 
rear, we saw much of the progress of the battle. It was, indeed, 
a bloody spectacle to see the dead and wounded borne back for 
burial or surgical attention. Our army held the position it had 
won and bivouacked on the field. Early on the 4th, the battle 
recommenced with renewed fury. About noon, Colonel Jackson 
was ordered to go round Corinth to the luka road leading east 
from Corinth, supposedly, to intercept the enemy, who were 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcuprce. 53 

thought to be making preparations to escape ; for we had heard 
that Price had captured the town. Our brigade circled the town, 
passing nTiany deserted picket posts and not seeing an enemy, 
though we were at no time more than a mile from the court- 
house, invisible, however, because of intervening forests. Mean- 
while, the thundering cannon and rattling musketry were heard 
incessantly till we had come to the luka road. Suddenly all fir- 
ing ceased and oppressive silence followed. We could form but 
one conjecture, — that the enemy had surrendered. Not being 
able to get definite information, Jackson retraced the route he 
had come, until we reached the road by which we had advanced 
on Corinth. Here, much to our surprise, we found our army re- 
treating. The Federals, however, were too badly demoralized to 
make a vigorous pursuit. When Price was in Corinth, Lovell 
failed to come to his support, and Price could not hope to hold the 
place against the heavy reinforcements Grant had sent. During 
the night, ]McPherson's division from Jackson, Tenn., had come 
in and were preparing to overwhelm Price. Also, Hurlburt's 
division had marched dov/n from Bolivar to Davis' Bridge, in or- 
der to dispute our passage. With McPherson in our rear and 
Hurlburt in front of us, we were apparently trapped. Shrewd 
generalship on the part of the Federals should have captured 
our whole army. But Van Dorii boldly attacked Hurlburt at 
the bridge, while the Confederate trains were ordered to take the 
only possible road of escape, that up the Hatchie River. Our 
cavalry preceded the trains ; and, having crossed the Hatchie by 
a ford, we attacked Hurlburt's rear. Then for some hours there 
were two Federal and two Confederate forces, one of each fac- 
ing two ways and fighting both in front and in rear. Van Dorn, 
however, drew off at the proper time and followed his trains, 
fording the Hatchie where we had crossed. Then the cavalry 
fell back behind the infantry and covered their retreat. The in- 
fantry on the march rearward drank all the wells dry, and all the 
creeks were without water, so that the cavalry, men and horses, 
suffered greatly from thirst, while the Federals pursued almost 
to Ripley. Often as many as a dozen times daily, the First Mis- 
sissippi were ordered to hold an assigned position till further 

64 Mississippi Historical Society. 

notice; then the enemy would advance in strong lines of infan- 
try, supported by batteries of artillery, and brisk fighting would 
continue, till we were ordered to retire to a new position, where 
the same program would be repeated. We grew very hungry, 
for our rations had all been devoured several days before and the 
infantry, as they preceded us, had exhausted what supplies we 
might otherwise have found along the road. Finally, to 
our great delight, the enemy ceased to pursue us as we drew near 
to Ripley, and we were permitted to go to our wagons. For the 
first time in many days we had a much-needed rest with all the 
rations we could devour. The hillsides were covered with dew- 
berries, ripe and delicious ; and, as sugar was issued to us in 
abundance, we feasted in luxury. 

It may be well incidentally to explain just here, that the cavalry 
on leaving Ripley in the advance on Corinth had started with 
three days' cooked rations, and that under such circumstances a 
cavalryman, hoping to lighten the weight for his horse as well 
as relieve himself of more or less annoyance, usually consumes 
all his rations at once and trusts to luck for something to eat 
when hunger overtakes him. On this expedition, however, we 
had all been too constantly in the presence of the enemy and too 
actively engaged with them to find time and opportunity to forage 
for man or beast, and in consequence had begun our retreat from 
Corinth with our stomachs as thoroughly empty as our haver- 
sacks. Day after day for several successive days, we had simply 
tightened our belts in lieu of eating. It is not astonishing, there- 
fore, that when we did get back to camp, w^e all ate ravenously. 

While covering the retreat, let me say, that the First Missis- 
sippi elicited praise from Colonel Jackson, who complimented 
especially the conduct of Captain Gadi lierrin of the Bolivar 
Troopers, Captain Craven of the Noxubee Troopers and Lieuten- 
ant Foote of the Noxubee Cavalry. 


Van Dorn's army was transferred to Holly Springs that it 
might be in front of Grant, who seemed to be headed down the 
Mississippi Central railroad. At Flolly Springs were assembled 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 55 

the exchanged Fort Donelson prisoners. Why Van Dorn had 
not awaited their coming before attacking Corinth, I do not know. 
It would certainly have changed the result of the battle. But fate 
was against us. "The stars in their courses fought against Sis- 
era". We rested at Holly Springs till Grant moved out from 
Memphis, menacing us with a large force. It would be a long 
story to tell of the sullen retreat of this army, now rapidly re- 
covering from the effects of the late disaster, Lovell's division 
and Price's Missourians were again ready to fight. The cold 
rainy days of winter had come and nothing seemed more certain 
than a battle on the line of the Tallahatchie. That line, how- 
ever, v/as abandoned. The enemy made a furious attack on the 
cavalry rear-guard at Oxford, Here, while leading a charge by 
the Second Mississippi Cavalry, Colonel James Gordon narrow- 
ly missed running over Colonel Jacob Thompson, whose horse 
had been shot under him and who was looking about him for his 
spectacles. He had resigned as Secretary of the Interior in Bu- 
chanan's Cabinet and joined our army. Our cavalry now had 
orders to hold the Federals in check until the artillery and the 
trains were safe behind the Yocona. It was one of those times 
when air the woods were alive with "Blue Coats". The follow- 
ing letter, written by a member of Co. E of the Seventh Ten- 
nessee Cavalry, gives a graphic account of affairs : 

"Editor of The Commercial Appeal : 

"Whenever I hear the patriotic spirit of Southern women al- 
luded to, I somehow mentally revert to what came under my. own 
observation one day in December, 1SG2, at Oxford, Miss. Price 
and Van Dorn had been forced to abandon the line of the Tall- 
hatchie and were falling back to the Yalobusha. Our cavalry 
were stubbornly resisting overwhelming odds, endeavoring to 
hold them in check long enough to get our trains out of immedi- 
ate danger. A cold rain w^as falling and tliere seemed to be no 
bottom t^ the roads. The citizens were panx-stricken and our 
army was sullen. The terrible weather added to the distress. 
'Blue Ruin' seemed to stare us in the face. Colonel Wheeler, 
temporarily commanding Jackson's brigade, was trj'ing to hold 
the Abbeville road. No picket was out in our front, and a call 
was made for somebody to reconnoitre. It was not a positive 

56 . Mississippi Historical Society. 

order from the Colonel commandinj^, but as he rode alon^ the 
line, he said, 'Some of you men with carbines will go out there, 
if you please, and see where they are.' It was a time when it 
was nobody's business in particular, but everybody's in j^eneral. 
I asked Sam Clinton if he would go with me. We rode forward, 
followed by a few men from other companies. We realized the 
danger and would have much preferred to be elsewhere. Soon 
we stirred up 'a veritable hornets' nest.' A gun was fired and 
a singing minic passed just above our heads. Instantly, a heavy 
skirmish line of Kansas Jayhawkers. who knew well how to 
shoot, rose up in the bushes on either side of the road. iThey 
fired a volley ; we replied in kind, and retreated at a rap'd pace. 
Private Wilson, of Co. I, was struck, his thigh-bone being frac- 
tured and making him a cripple for life. The gallant Joe Wicks, 
of Memiphis, just then came with orders for our squad to fall 
back, — but we had already taken our orders from the Jayhawk- 
ers. But poor Joe Wicks was never seen alive again ! Having 
other orders to deliver, he dashed into the forest, and in a few 
minutes his riderless horse ran at full speed back to cur com- 
mand. "Wicks never delivered his orders. His body was recov- 
ered some days afterwards and buried by the good people of 

"As w^e came back through Oxford, retiring before the ad- 
vancing Federals, we foimd it a town of tearful women and 
weeping maids. This but added to our overwhelming cup of 
woe. On the verandah of a cottage south of the court-house, 
a maiden was standing who did not seem to be weeping. Her 
spirit had risen to the occasion. She was most forcibly express- 
ing her opinion, as she saw us giving up the town to the merci- 
less Yankees. Her short skirts and her youthful appearance 
mollified her impeachment; for, if we had taken her opinion. as 
solid truth and had viewed ourselves as she saw us, we should 
have- regarded ourselves as the most cowardly aggregation of 
*skedadling' cavalry in the whole Confederacy. But v/ho was 
this little maiden with such lofty and patriotic impulses? Every- 
body wanted to know. We fondly hoped erelong to have her 
think better of us. Cad Linthicum, our little Kentuckian, who 
somehow had a penchant for knowing all the girls in divers 
places, said it was Miss Taylor Cook; and so it was. The 'Miss 
Taylor Cook' went down the line, repeated by every trooper af- 
fectionately and most respectfully. She had become famous in 
a twinkling. The Seventh Tennessee Cavalry would have gladly 
adopted her as the 'daughter of the regiment', if she could have 
appreciated the honor. She was, indeed, worthy to become the 

llic Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 57 

wife of Nathan Bedford Forrest's only son. And she did. 
Whenever I pause at her grave in beautiful Elmwood, I recall 
that sad day in Oxford. 

J. M. Hubbard, Co. E, 7th Tennessee" 

On the following day, we placed the Yokona between ourselves 
and the enemy. We destroyed the bridges so as to obstruct pur- 
suit. Here we committed, perhaps, our first depredation upon a 
citizen : we burnt his fences. It was very cold, we were wet and 
had no axes.- We spoke of it, among ourselves, as an outrage ; 
but it felt good any way to dry ourselves by the blazing fires. We 
satisfied conscience by the reflection, that if a patriot the citizen 
would not complain, but if not he deserved no serious considera- 
tion. At night, we had a great time, eating sweet potatoes we had 
roasted in the ashes and had opened up to let the gravy from fat 
bacon drip into them, as we held over hot coals thin juicy slices 
pierced with a sharpened stick. It was a feast, indeed, good 
enough for a king. Some of the men spent the whole night thus, 
roasting and eating potatoes. No one in Company G could -eat 
more potatoes than Mr. G. W. Alford, of the Deupree Mess. He 
always contended that potatoes were the best food we could get. 
Some others, and among them this scribe, preferred roasting ears, 
when cooked in the ashes in the shuck. One of our ■Mess, whom I 
need not name, on one occasion gathered twenty-five long and 
large, splendid, ears, gave twelve to his horse and retained thir- 
ten for himself, contending he had made a fair and equitable 
division because the horse got the shucks from twelve ears and 
the cobs and the fodder from twenty-five. Reader, be it known 
that the best way on earth to cook roasting ears is to cook them 
in their jackets and thus preserve all their delicious sweetness 
and aroma. Thus cooked, in my judgment they surpass even 
the roasted potato. Try it and be convinced. 

Suddenly, early next morning Bugler Cox sounded "Boots 
and Saddles", for already the Federal cavalry w^ere between us 
and Water Valley. Tliere was but one thing to do, — to put on 
a bold front and ride over them. This was done quickly and 
thoroughly by our leading squadron, so that the rest of the com- 

58 • Mississippi Historical Scx:iety. 

mand didn't come in sight of the enemy. Just north of Coffee- 
ville, we assisted in forming an ambuscade, into which the Fed- 
eral cavalry rode unsuspectingly, and we gave them such a de- 
feat that they withdrew rapidl^^ to Oxford. 


We next went into camp six miles north of Grenada, at Anti- 
och Church. 

While the army was at Grenada, President Davis made us a 
visit. It was the first time he had come into the State since he 
became Chief Magistrate of the Confederacy and the last till he 
had been released from Fortress Monroe. He reviewed the 
army. All the infantry and artillery and some cavalry were in 
line, totalling more than twenty thousand and presenting a 
splendid appearance. They received the President with wild en- 
thusiasm, as he rode along the Hne, halting at the centre of each 
command to return its salute. Flis courtesy and soldierly bear- 
ing won all hearts. 

We were getting well along into the second year of the war, 
and our prospects were growing gloomy. North ^Mississippi 
was overrun by the enemy, and it seemed probable our army 
might be driven to the Gulf. Though \^an Dom had not achieved 
success as commander of an army, or tlie projector of a military 
campaign, yet he was known to be a born cavalryman, and one 
in every v/ay qualified to lead a bold movement to cut Grant's 
communications. x\ccordingly. a cavalry command was organ- 
ized to be led by Van Dorn, with FloUy Springs as the objective. 
This place had been abundantly supplied with everything needed 
by an army of 50,000 men, and it was garrisoned by 8,000 men 
of all arms. In the reorganization of the cavalry, Jackson, who 
had become a brigadier-general, commanded the Seventh and 
other Tennessee regiments ; Colonel Griffith commanded the 
Texas brigade, coniposcd of the Third, Sixth, and Ninth cav- 
alry; Col. Bob McCulloch, of the Second Missouri, commanded 
a brigade consisting of his own regiment and the First Missis- 
sippi. Our brigade had their camp at Antioch Church. When 

llie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcuprec. 59 

not on duty, the men spent their time in various ways. Most ot 
them were devout believers in Christianity and read their bibles 
daily with pleasure and profit. Many indulged in sports of all 
kinds, a goodly number playing checkers or chess on oil-cloth 
diagrams spread on the ground, with pieces and men hand- 
carved, w^hich they carried in their haversacks, but more playing 
cards for mere amusement and a number playing for money. 
In fact, so many games were played in the church on rainy days 
that its name was changed from Antioch to Ante-Up. On Sunday, 
when not on duty, men and officers usually attended divine serv- 
ice conducted' by the regular chaplain, or by a visiting evangel- 
ist, or by some officer or private, who was an ordained minister 
of the gospel, for there were many such in our army, from 
Bishop General Polk down. The most eloquent and attractive 
chaplain we had during the war was Rev. — . — . Osborne, whose 
initials I cannot now recall. Not only men from our regiment 
but many from other regiments w^ould hang with delight upon 
his discourses. I recall a favorite exclamation of his: '7/ re- 
ligion is worth anything, it is ivorth ez'cry thing." It cannot be 
remembered at this time when he left us nor where, but we 
missed him sadly. Amusing incidents often occurred. Once as 
General Polk was reprimanding severely an offender against mil- 
itary law and order, IMike Callahan, an Irish member of our 
company, involuntarily shouted : "Let me cuss him out for you, 
Gineral". The general quietly replied, 'Thank you, sir, I do not 
think it will be necessary ; I think, I have said enough". And he 
had, for the offense was never repeated. 


Time sped on. Men and horses were rested and reinvigorated. 
On the 17th of December, late in the afternoon, rations for three 
days were issued to ]\IcCulloch's brigade, Jim Douglass of Co. 
G at once ate all his rations, saying they were more easily carried 
HI stomach than in haversack and less burdensome to the horse. 
We were ordered to mount and fall into line and to join the bri- 
gades of Griffith and Jackson. From 'THE LOST CAUSE" 
published some years ago in Louisville, Ky., I clip the following: 

60 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The capture of Holly Springs by Dr. J. G. Deupree, of the 
University of Mississippi, is an interesting story, by a survivor 
of the famous column of cavalry that rodtj into Holly Springs 
before daybreak on a cold December morning, nearly^ fifty years 

The narrative opens by describing the military situation as 
it was about the middle of December, 18G2, Grant's main army 
was near Oxford, and his outposts at Coffeevillc ; and Pember- 
ton was south of the Yalobusha with front and Hanks covered 
by Van Dorn's cavalry, about 2,500 troopers. The story tells 
how Van Dorn with his cavalry moved east from Grenada on the 
night of December ITth, ostensibly to destroy or to capture the 
Federal Colonel Dickey with his 1,000 raiders, operating on the 
M. & O. railroad above and below Tupelo ; how^ Van Dorn, vvlieu 
about to encounter Dickey, so maneuvered as to pass through Pon- 
totoc in the direction of New Albany and allow Dickey to follovv- 
him if-he chose, or else simply to note his direction and go and re- 
port to Grant at Oxford that he had seen Van Dorn at the head 
of his cavalry moving north and apparently bent on going into 
Tennessee to join Forrest at Bolivar or Jackson. As the story 
goes, Dickey chose the latter course. The narrative brings out 
clearly the skillful tactics of Van Dorn in keeping the enemy al- 
ways behind him and never giving him an opportunity to ob- 
struct his march or to send to any Federal garrison warning of 
Van Dorn's approach. It shows, too, how Van Dorn kept the 
enemy deceived as to his objective, as long as possible, and then 
moved so rapidly that hostile pickets or scouts could not report 
his coming far enough in advance to be of any service. 

After telling of many amusing incidents on the march, and 
how on the night of December the 19th Van Dorn's troopers 
halted at 10 o'clock within five miles of Holly Springs, dis- 
mounted, and in grim silence and without fires, stood holding 
their horses, ready to mount at a mjomcnt's notice, the story con- 
tinues, as follows : 

"Before daylight an order was quietly passed along the col- 
umn to mount and form fours in the road. It chanced to be the 
day for the First Mississippi to lead McCulloch's brigade. Lieu- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 61 

tenant S. B. Day commanded the advance-guard of twenty men, 
and the front four were Graves Dantzler, Bob White, W. Drewry 
Deupree, and J. G. Deupree. Orders were g-iven to move for- 
ward on two roads at a gallop, to capture the pickets or follow 
them so closely that no alarm could precede us. The wisdom 
of the order was appreciated by all, and it was obeyed with alac- 
rity. The First Mississippi were to enter Holly Springs from 
the northeast, charge through the infantry camp without halting 
to fight or to receive any surrenders, but to attack the cavalry as 
soon as disco\iered. The Second Missouri were to dismount at 
the edge of town, charge on foot and capture or disperse any 
infantry encountered. Ross' Texans were to approach from the 
east, coming in by the railroad station, and thus prevent any re- 
inforcements from surprising us in that direction ; also, a detach- 
ment of Texans was to go south and watch the Abbeville road. 
Jackson's Tennesseeans were to approach from the north, pre- 
venting possible reinforcements from Bolivar, as well as watch- 
ing the road coming in from Memphis on the west. 

As we neared the town, we increased our speed. Pinson's reg- 
iment rode through in a sweeping gallop, ignoring the infantry, 
though many of them, awakened and startled by the charge, ran 
out of their tents in night-attire and fired into our column, 
wounding nearly every horse in the advance-guard and some of 
the men. As we approached the Fair Ground, where we ex- 
pected to find the Federal cavalry, the gallant men of the Second 
Illinois, under Col. Neill and ]\Iaj. Mudd, were in line answer- 
ing to roll-call, prepared to go and look for Van Dorn, as they 
had heard he was coming. Brave and courageous as they were, 
they boldly charged upon us with drawn sabres. I shall not un- 
dertake to describe all that occurred in the melee, but simply 
shall mention some things that came under my own observation. 
Little Jere Beasley, a lad of fifteen summers, was just about to 
be cut down by a stalwart Federal, when Lieutenant Day shot 
the bold rider as with uplifted arm he was about to let fall the 
fatal stroke. Our Major Wheeler had his thumb cut otf in a 
sabre duel with a Federal officer. Adjutant Lawrence Yates, 
was seriously cut in the forehead, and the blood gushing from 

62 ^ Mississippi Historical Society. 

the long wound ran down his face and neck. !My horse had been 
shot twice as we came through the infantry camp, and here he 
received the third and fatal bullet and fell lifeless to the ground. 
I simply made breastworks of the dead animal until I could catch 
the horse of the Federal with whom I had been personally en- 
gaged, and who had been shot by some Confederate. Then^ 
mounting the captured horse, I was soon with the regiment chas- 
ing the routed enemy. Pistols in the hands of Mississipi^ians 
had proved superior to sabres wnelded by the hardy sons of Illi- 
nois. Many thrilling deeds done by Federals and Confederates 
on thak day will remain forever unknown. But it may be said 
that the First Mississippi in the Second Illinois met foemen 
worthy of their steel, for as great nerve was, required to make 
as to receive that charge. Few of our men were killed, though 
many were more or less seriously wounded. As victors, we ar- 
ranged to have the wounded all well cared for and to send our 
disabled men south by a detour eastward." 

Next, this valuable paper gives interesting details of the entry 
of the other Confederate commands, of the surrender of the Fed- 
eral infantry, of the destruction of the vast stores of every kind^ 
which had been accumulated here for Grant's army, as well as 
of the excitement and confusion incident to the occasion. The 
scene was described as 'Svild and exciting. Federals running. 
Confederates yelling and pursuing, tents and houses burning, 
torches flaming, guns popping, sabres clanking, negroes and ab- 
olitionists begging for mercy, women in dreaming-robes clapping 
their hands with joy and shouting encouragement to the raid- 
ers, — a mass of excited, frantic, human beings, presenting in 
the early morning hours a picture which words cannot portray". 

Most of the storehouses around the public square were full 
of food, clothing, and medical supplies. A large livery stable 
had been converted into an immense arsenal for storage of arms 
and munitions. There were three long trains of cars standing 
on the track, filled with supplies, ready to be sent south to Grant's 
army. 'The sutlers and small dealers who follow an anny were 
all richly supplied, as if they expected to stay permanently in the 
sunny South. The cotton speculators were in large force and 

'Flic Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 63 

had many hundred bales stored wherever they could find room. 
It was hard to realize that we were in actual possession of the 
greatest booty captured by any Confederate force thus far dur- 
ing the war. Everybody wanted to carry off something, but it 
was difficult to make a selection. Whiskey, brandy, and wines 
of the best quality, in original and unbroken packages, were 
among the spoils ; and everybody so disposed could help himself ; 
and a great many were so disposed. A. S. Coleman, sutler of 
the First Mississippi, had left his wagon in Grenada and donned 
his fighting clothes for this raid. He was a sort of free lance, 
a«suming special privileges. He searched some of the richest 
depots and selected such articles as he thought would please the 
boys. He soon "hove in sight" with a string of hats as long as 
a plough-line wound about himself and horse. What appeared 
to be the effigy of a man, clothed in blue trowsers of large di- 
mensions and cut in twain in the middle and footless, sat bolt- 
upright on the pommel of his saddle. When the contents of the 
effigy were displayed, there was more good liquor than there was 
room for. Then, all were soon in fine trim to attack the com- 
missary stores. As with the liquors, the boys likewise did materi- 
ally reduce the visible supply of good edibles. People of all 
classes, without regard to previous condition of mastery or ser- 
vitude, were free to walk up and help themselves, which they 
gladly did. Children, too, reveled in the pleasures of the occa- 
sion, and grown people declared it was the grandest day Holly 
Springs had ever seen. 

The work of destruction was begun in earnest in the after- 
noon. When our men had supplied themselves with pistols, sa- 
bres, and carbines, and all else they needed, the arsenal was fired, 
as well as the trains, and the storehouses. Town and country 
were enveloped in smoke, and long after we had gone reports of 
explosives were heard. Van Dorn had so completely reaped the 
fruits of victory that his praise was on every tongue. Our men 
rode out of town at night-fall, the most thoroughly equipped 
body of cavalry the Confederacy had known. — all in high glee 
and eager for adventures further north. On the road next mom- 
>ng after a brief rest, we looked like a Federal colunm, as thous- 

64 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ands of blue overcoats were utilized on this bright frosty morn- 
ing. We reached Davis' Mills, now Michigan City, early on the 
21st of December, on Wolf River about twenty miles north of 
Holly Springs. The Federal garrison here was small but well 
protected by a fort, rifle-pits, and a barricaded mill-house. The 
Confederates on foot assailed the position furiously, but un- 
fortunately without artillery. The firing from across the nar- 
row river was so galling, that our men on retiring sheltered 
themselves for a time behind the mill-dam along the bank. We 
suffered considerably in killed and wounded, for retreat to our 
horses was perilously exposed, while the little garrison took ad- 
vantage of their opportunity to the utmost. While we were ly- 
ing in the ditch behind the mill-dam, a hat held up on a stick 
would instantly receive several bullet-holes. A member of Com- 
pany F had his new Holly Springs hat ruined by a minie-ball, 
passing through it and on through his hair, slightly wounding 
his skull. 

After the affair at Davis' ^nIiU, we withdrew to the Lane Farm 
and rested part of the night, and our horses had a bountiful 
feed. What was to be done must be done quickly. According 
to orders, we mounted and moved off in a gallop. ]\Iy Yankee 
horse seemed to know instinctively just what to do at all times 
and under all circumstances. At every halt he would lie down 
like a tired dog, but was all full of life and animation when the 
column moved. Across Wolf River at Moscow in the early 
morning, we took the road towards Somerville, Tenn. It was 
rumored we vvcre to repeat the Holly Springs business at Boli- 
var. All hopes ran high. We were reavdy to lead a suiprise 
party or an assault. But we moved on to Danceyville, and that 
did not look like going to Bolivar. But after a short halt to feed 
horses, we countermarched and felt sure we were on the way to 

We had traveled over much of Fayette and Flardeman coun- 
ties in Tennessee, when we bivouacked on Clear Creek early in 
the night of December 23d. The rank and file confident that 
next morning we would go into Bolivar, only a few miles away, 
and there spend a jolly Christmas. But this was not to be. Our 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 65 

scouts and spies reported that the Federals were in great force 
there, strongly fortified, aud ready to give us a warm reception. 
They had evidently heard from Holly Springs. Van Dorn drew 
off to Middlet)urg, seven miles southwest from Bolivar, wdiere a 
small garrison was protected by a large brick church, with hall 
above through the walls of which they had made portholes. 
Here, again, we needed one or two pieces of artillery. The Fed- 
erals stood bravely and rejected every invitation to surrender. 
l! was a detachment of the Twelfth Michigan Infantry, which 
the citizens represented as the most devilish lot that ever came 
south. Here we saw the prettiest line of battle we had ever seen 
up to this time. It was Col. Sul Ross leading his Sixth Texas 
dismounted, with a firing line of skirmishers several rods in ad- 
vance. As we sat .upon our horses in reserve, some distance in 
the rear, we could not but admire this fine body of young Texans. 
Sul Ross had been a gallant Indian fighter, became a 'Con feder- 
ate Brigadier-general, and after the war was an incorruptible 
statesman, governor of Texas, and conceded to be the most pop- 
ular man in the Lone Star State. 

Finding it impossible to get the Michiganders out of the 
church, Van Dorn drew off without molestation, for the garri- 
son was doubtless glad to see us go. Now Grierson and Hatch 
with tv/o thousand cavalry and mounted infantry were at our 
heels and threatening to crowd us. Van Dorn turned eastward 
and later southward, passing through Ripley, New Albany, and 
Pontotoc, keeping up constant battle for some time with his cau- 
tious pursuers, and at the same time beating off Mizcner and 
others that attempted to intercept him. We reached Grenada 
after an absence of thirteen days, during most of the time fight- 
ing by day and riding by night. Florses and men were exhausted 
and enjoyed rest once more. Before going on this raid, the First 
Mississippi was taken from Jackson's brigade and given to Bob 
McCuUough's. General Jackson now took occasion to express 
his regret at losing the regiment and his gratitude and admira- 
tion "for their cheerful attention to every military duty, their 
hearty cooperation at all times, and their cool and determined 
courage in every engagement while under his command.'* 

66 Mississippi Historical Society. 


' In January, further reorganization of the cavalry was effected. 
The liirst, the Fourth, and the Twenty E'ghtli Mississippi were 
thrown together into a brigade to be commanded by Brigadier- 
General G. B. Cosby. Late in February, Van Dorn began his 
march into Middle Tennessee. Forrest's brigade, already at 
Columbia, was to become a part of Van Dorn's corps. Whit- 
field and Armstrong preceded Cosby on the march. Forrest in- 
formed Van Dorn that a reconnaissance was expected to be made 
by the enemy at Franklin, Tennessee, because early in March 
Rosecrans had become desirous of more definite information as 
to the positions and intentions of the Confederates. On March 
Ith, Van Dorn concentrated the brigades of Forrest, Whitfield 
and Armstrong, south of Thompson's Station, on the pike on 
which the Federals were advancing. Cosby was still beyond the 
swollen Duck River, coming as rapidly as he could. General Jack- 
son, commanding the division composed of W'hitfield's and Arm- 
strong's brigades, had been facing the Federals. Seeing their 
column of infantry, cavalrj^ and artillery, stretched along the 
pike for miles, he had concluded that they were too numerous for 
him to attack without additional support. He, therefore, retired 
a short distance. Col. Coburn with nearly three thousand infan- 
try and cavalry, in addition to the Eighteenth Ohio Battery, fol- 
lowed him closely. As niglit fell, Federals and Confederates 
bivouacked almost in sight of each other, the Federals about 
Thompson's Station and the Confederates not far south. "Dur- 
ing the night'', says Van Dorn, "my scouts reported the enemy to 
consist of a brigade of infantry, two regiments of cavalry, and a 
battery of artillery". The Union commander. Colonel Coburn, 
was not pleased with the outlook. In his imagination. Van 
Dorn's force grew to exceed fifteen thousand, and he did not 
know whether to fight or run. Spring Flill seemed more remote 
than w^hen he set out from Franklin by order of Brigadier-Gen- 
eral James A. Garfield to go thither and ascertain the positions 
and numbers of the Confederates. Greatly perplexed, he sent a 
message disclosing the situation, as it appeared to him, and 

llic Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 67 

asked, "What shall I do?*' Getting no answer, early on Zvlarch 
5th he sent back to Franklin eighty wagons of surplus baggage, 
resolved to obey Garfield's order and proceed to Spring Hill de- 
spite opposition. 

By daylight, Van Dorn was in the saddle and his forces in line 
of battle awaiting the approach of the enemy. Annstrong's and 
Whitfield's brigades, on foot, occupied a ridge crossing the pike 
at right angles, Armstrong west of the pike and Whitfield east. 
Deliberately and with grim determination, Coburn's brigade 
came on, but slowly, so slowly in fact, that the engagement did 
not begin till after 10 o'clock. The Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth 
Indiana regiments, with two rifled cannon, forming the right of 
Coburn's line west of the pike, and the Twenty-second Wisconsin 
and the Nineteenth iMichigan, his left wing, east of the pike. 
Still further to his left, in a dense cedar thicket, on a consider- 
able knoll, were several companies of dismounted cavalry, and 
just behind them, screened by the knoll, mounted and in line 
stood the remainder of Jordan's regiment of Federal cavalry. On 
our extreme right, to watch these cavalry was Forrest's brigade. 
The One Hundred-twenty-fourtli Ohio was in reserve with the 
Federal train. As the Federal cavalry made a demonstration on 
our right, the Indianians charged Armstrong on our left, while 
the artillery of both sides thundered incessantly. King's battery 
was a little to the right of the pike and Freeman's with Forrest. 
A lively fusilade of rifle-fire arose, when the Federals in gallant 
style charged King's battery, supported as it was by the Texans 
behind a stone fence. When the enemy had gotten w^ithin two 
hundred yards, the Texans fired a volley, leaped over the stone 
fence and counter-charged, driving back the Federals more rapid- 
ly than they had advanced. ^Meantime, the Fourth Tennessee un- 
der Colonel Starnes had driven the dismounted Federal cavalry 
from the knoll, and Forrest had pushed forward Freeman's bat- 
tery and so posted it as to enfilade the Federal infantry and also 
to sweep their artillery and drive it from the field, just as their 
cavalry had been dispersed. After a brief interval, Coburn, be- 
ing reinforced, compelled Armstrong and Whitfield to withdraw 
to their original positions. Van Dorn, learning that Sheridan 

68 Mississippi Historical Society. 

was rushing additional reinforcements to Coburn, ordered a re- 
newal of the charge by Whittield and Armstrong. A fierce en- 
counter at close quarters ensued, in which both sides suffered 
heavily. Forrest began to close down on the left and rear of the 
enemy, with a view to cutting off their e^:cape north or east, caus- 
ing the Twenty-second Wisconsin to break into a stampede. Cos- 
by's brigade was crossing Duck River, the men of the First Mis- 
sissippi and of the Twenty-eighth coming over in a ferry-boat, 
their horses being forced to swim the sw^ollen stream. In obedi- 
ence to an order from V^an Dorn, we rode at full speed to gain 
our extreme left, and then wheeled into line so as to close avenues 
of escape west or northwest. Here v/e did but httle fighting and 
lost only three men. Coburn, perceiving the disaster occasioned 
by Forrest's movements, withdrew slowly and with fixed bayon- 
ets in order to receive Forrest. Then, when Forrest had ap- 
proached within twenty feet and his men were drawing their pis- 
tols from holsters, Coburn, realizing that his last avenue of es- 
cape was hopelessly closed against him by the IMississippians, and 
that further resistance would be futile, raised the white flag and 
surrendered. Thus closed this spirited battle. We captured 
more than loOO officers and men, unwounded, while our loss was 
less than 350, m^ostly in Whitfield's and Armstrong's brigades. 

In the late afternoon, after burying their dead, the Federal 
prisoners were escorted to the rear by Col, James Gordon's regi- 
ment. We of the first ^lississippi held the battlefield and made 
the wounded of both armies comfortable by building for them 
great fires of cedar rails and keeping them replenished v/ith am- 
ple fuel during the night. 


Next day we were ordered back to our cantonments near 
Spring Hill, in a beautiful grove of sugar maples, such as few of 
us had ever seen before. By tapping the trees, drawing and boil- 
ing the sap, most delicious maple syrup was obtained, which 
greatly improved our breakfast menu of wheaten cakes and but- 
ter, so abundant in this garden-spot of Middle Tennessee. But 
the Federals had determined to keep us busy. On the 8ih, Gen- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. G9 

eral Granger, with a column of 10,000 infantry and half as many 
cavalry and artillery, moved out from Franklin and down the 
Columbia pike. Heavy skirmishes resulted, but the Confederates, 
largely outnumbered, retired slowly and deliberately. For sev- 
eral days, heavy rains had fallen, greatly swelling Duck River 
and its tributaries. Behind Rutherford Creek, Van Dorn or- 
dered us to make a stand, in order to gain time to send his trains 
across Duck River, hoping for an opportunity to repeat on 
Granger the tactics he had used against Cobiirn. But as Ruther- 
ford Creek and Duck River continued to rise. Van Dorn decided 
it would be imprtident to risk battle between those streams 
against a force so far superior to his own. If beaten, he would 
probably lose the greater part of his command and leave Colum- 
bia exposed. He, therefore, determined to ride up the river to 
a bridge twenty miles away and return down the river by a forced 
march and cover Columbia again, before Granger's men could 
cross both streams, though to do this Van Dorn had forty miles 
to ride and Granger's cavalry only four. This bold and desperate 
movement was successfully accomplished despite the fact that 
his vigilant enemy was aware of Van Dorn's perilous position and 
was pressing his right vigorously in order to force him into the 
fork of the river and the creek. So soon as they discovered that 
Van Dorn had outwitted them and extricated his cavalry and 
had reached Columbia before they could make preparation to 
cross Duck River, they retired. They evidently feared lest long- 
er absence from Franklin w^ould tempt their resourceful and fear- 
less foe to ride around them and by a rapid march get into Frank- 
lin behind them. Then, Van Dorn at once resumed his position 
near Spring Flill. 

Just here I shall quote a pertinent letter written soon after 
these events and published in the Macon Beacon of x\pril 1st, 

"Camp Pork and Biscuits, 

March 15th, 18G2. Not far from Sprins^ Flill. Tenn. 
"Dear Pa:— 

I wrote you last from near Spring Hill, directly after the battle 
of Thompson Station. I was mistaken in the estimate I made of 
the prisoners taken. The number did not exceed 1500, exclusive 

70 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of the wounded that fell into our hands. But my estimates of 
the killed and wounded on either side may be regarded as very 
nearly correct. Several days afterwards, the Federals again ad- 
vanced from P>anklin with an overwhelming force of twenty 
regiments of infantry and five of cavalry. On the 9th, Van 
Dorn with his whole cavalry force retreated in good order and 
took up a new line of defence behind Rutherford Creek, swollen 
by excessive rains so as to become impassable at the ordinary 
fords. It was Van Dorn's intention to hold the enemy in check, 
until a bridge of boats could be constructed across Duck River 
for the transportation of his artillery and wagon trains. On the 
10th, the heavy rain began to fall and continued incessantly dur- 
ing the night to descend in torrents upon our soldiers drenched 
to the skin and shivering with cold, as they crowded around 
their feeble fires. Our company and Captain Chandler's, having 
been detailed as sharp-shooters, had taken positiun on the banks 
of the Rutherford in two Httle stockade-forts, buih last summer 
by the Federals. It was in one of these that little Jere Beasley 
came to his untimely and melancholy end by the accidental dis- 
charge of a pistol in the hands of his dear comrade. The ball 
entered Jere's head immediately behind his left ear and passed 
through, coming out two inches behind the right ear. Contrary 
to all expectations, Jere survived three days and vv'as buried m 
Rose Hill cemetery, in Columbia, on yesterday. Lieutenant T. 
J. Deupree had a neat stone properly engraved and placed over 
the spot to mark it permanently. The death of no one else could 
have caused such deep grief in the company. ''Jerry," as he 
was familiarly called, was dearly beloved by all who knew him. 

'*0n the evening of the lOth, the Federals were in consider- 
able force in our front on the opposite bank of tlie creek. By 
night the Duck River had so risen and the current had become so 
strong, that all hopes of successfully constructing the bridge had 
vanished. Our condition began to grow critical. Prospects were 
gloomy. Hemmed in by a force double our own in front and 
with no means save a single small and frail ferry for crossing 
the turbid river in our rear, we expected nothing on the morrow 
but a desperate and bloody engagement or a melancholy and un- 
conditional surrender. But when the morning sun arose beauti- 
ful and clear for the first time in many days, our hopes revived 
and general contidence in our officers was restored. The wagons 
had been conve}ed across the river during the night, and only 
the four pieces of artillery and the caissons awaited transporta- 
tion. These were speedily carried across. The Federals began 
early to reconnoiter our position and to shell our camp from ad- 

'The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 71 

jacciit hills. They doubtless thought from the numerous fires, 
which we had kindled by Van Dorn's order, as well as from the 
excessive yelling' that prevailed, that we had received heavy rein- 
forcements. After detailing Colonel Woodward's Kentucky regi- 
ment to cover the retreat, Van Dorn by skillful maneuvering suc- 
ceeded in drawing off his forces and proceeded up the river some 
twenty miles and crossed on a bridge near White's Mills. The 
enemy did not learn of the withdrawal till about night. They be- 
lieved that we intended to get in their rear again, and began a 
hasty retreat to Franklin, whence they came. We reached our 
present camp yesterday. Duck River has fallen so as again to 
be almost fordable. Our lines now extend beyond Spring Hill. 
Horses generally need shoeing, and many are now uniit for ser- 
vice on account of lameness caused by traveling over those rocky 
roads and pikes. 

'*W^e believe that God has been with us and pray that He will 
still bless and protect us. Especially, we pray for peace and na- 
tional prosperity. Love to all, 



The pontoon bridge at Columbia was rapidly reconstructed, 
and the cavalry of Van Dorn had advanced beyond Spring Hill 
by March 15th. 


Cosby's and Whitfield's brigades, now of Jackson's division, on 
the Columbia pike were keeping up continuous skirmishing with 
the Federal outposts, while Armstrong's and Starnes' brigades of 
Forrest's division did likewise on the Lewisburg pike. On the 
2Sth, Forrest assailed Brentwood and captured the garrison of 
about 780 men, with their arms, munitions, and baggage. Then 
the usual routine of outpost service continued without note- 
worthy incident till about April 9th, when General Jackson, 
commanding the advance, was led to believe that Granger was 
evacuating Franklin. With a view to a reconnaissance and to 
creating a diversion in favor of Bragg's army in front of Tulla- 
homa, Van Dorn moved early on the morning oi April lOth to 
attack Franklin. Unluckily, as the sequel proved, he was twenty- 
four hours too late, for Granger had received reinforcements, 

72 Mississippi Historical Society. 

including Stanley's strong brigade of cavalry which was des- 
tined to save Granger from overwhelming disaster. Jackson's 
cavalry, with the First ^Mississippi in advance, under the imme- 
diate eye of Van Dorn, rode at full speed on the Columbia pike, 
running over the opposing cavalry and right up against the brist- 
ling bayonets of the Fourth Ohio Infantry, strongly posted as a 
reserve. Within less than five minutes, the Noxubee Squadron 
had lost a dozen horses, and some men wounded. By this time, 
the regiment had wheeled into line. Colonel Pinson ordered us 
to draw pistols and charge the Ohioans. With a "wild yell, we 
rode at full speed, leaping the ditch and forcing the enemy to 
seek shelter within the fort. To our left, the Twenty-eighth Mis- 
sissippi w^ith drawn sabres swept into the town, winning plaudits 
from Van Dorn, while Jackson complimented the First Mississ- 
ippi. Armstrong's brigade on the Lewisburg pike, under the eye of 
Forrest, had likewise driven the enemy within their fortifications 
in the edge of town. All were now preparing for a final assault. 
Whitfield's brigade on the Columbia pike and Starnes' brigade 
on the Lewisburg pike vrere approaching. But about this time 
Annstrong's attack suddenly ceased, for something untoward 
had occurred two miles rearward of his position. In disregard 
of orders, Stanley's cavalry including the Fourth Regulars had 
withdrawn from their position and had ridden westward, intend- 
ing to strike Armstrong's rear at Hughes' mill, and was moving 
rapidly towards the Lewisburg pike, along w^hich Starnes y\2ls 
marching in column and in fancied security towards Franklin 
to join in Armstrong's assault. Unexpectedly, Stanley's men col- 
lided with Starnes' column. 

At the mill, the road leading to the Lewisburg pike forked. 
By one fork it was a mile to the pike, and by the other it was a 
mile and a half. On the shorter road, Stanley dispatched three 
regiments, and on the longer two with the Fourth Regulars lead- 
ing. The Regulars arrived within a hundred yards of the pike, 
before their presence was discovered. Captain Freeman prompt- 
ly put his four cannon in position; but before he could fire, the 
Regulars were upon him, driving ofif the few cavalry that had 
gathered to support the battery, and capturing Captain Freeman, 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 73 

his g'uns, and 3G of his men. Starnes at once retrieved the error, 
of not guarding his flanks, by leading a furious assault against 
the Regulars, driving them off, and recapturing Freeman's bat- 
tery. The Regulars hurried off with their prisoners, shooting 
down Captain Freeman and others unable to run as rapidly as 
the Regulars wished to retreat before Starnes. This retreat of 
Stanley ended the lighting, — but he had saved Granger. 

"Here I beg to quote the following pertinent letter, copied from 
the Macon Beacon of April 29th, 1863: 

"In camp, near Spring Hill, Tenn., April 11, 1863. 
"Dear Pa :— 

Thinking you will doubtless hear of the terrible battle in which 
Cosby's brigade was engaged yesterday, knowing you will be 
uneasy until you hear definitely of casualties in our regiment, I 
write at once; and to dissipate your uneasiness, I state at the out- 
set that no one was seriously hurt in the Noxubee Squadron. 

"About 10 o'clock yesterday morning, our brigade being in 
advance and supplied with two days' rations and forty rounds of 
ammunition, began its march towards Franklin, to make a re- 
connaissance in force in order to determine whether the enemy 
were evacuating their works or not on Harpeth River, as scouts 
reported they were doing. Our regiment was in front and was 
ordered to drive in the Federal pickets and outposts. Within 
two miles of Franklin, we discovered a small force of hostile cav- 
alry strongly posted on Winston Hill. We advanced on them 
in a gallop; they fled precipitately, without firing or being fired 
on. We pursued closely till within a half-mile of Franklin. Here 
they rallied, supported by two or more companies of infantry, 
and thus checked for the time our further advance in that direc- 
tion. At this point, one man was killed in Taylor's company and 
one wounded in Cravens'. Colonel Pinson, seeing the strength of 
their position and not being able to learn their exact number, 
concealed as they were behind the brow of the hill, immediately 
dispatched a courier to state the facts to the general and ask for 
reinforcements. Orders came to move to the right and, if pos- 
sible, to turn the enemy's flank and thus dislodge him. \\t had 
gonp about one-fourth of a mile east of the pike, when we were 
thrown into line to receive the charge of a party of Federal cav- 
alry'. But as soon as we began to move towards them, they 
'turned tail' and moved off rapidly. At this time, General Van 
L)orn, attended by his own and General Jackson's escort, ap- 
peared on the field. 


74 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Our regiment was now divided : the major part under Major 
Wheeler, movinc^ further east, being" disinounicd and posted in 
the woods, was brieily engaged, but without lo>s, as each man 
was prolected by a tree or stump; t!ie remainder of the regiment. 
i. e., companies A, D, I, and G, led by Colonel Pinson in person, 
charged across an open field, 400 yards wide, for the purpose of 
routing the enemy, supposed to be in small force on the opposite 
edge of the field. These Federals, concealed by a slight elevation 
of ground, waited till we were wiihin 100 yards and then arose, 
about 500 strong, and poured a galling fire into our ranks, doing 
dreadful execution, as regards horses. \Vc halted and calmly 
stood the fire, though unable, to return it as our guns had pre- 
viously been discharged. We then retired with deliberation for 
about 100 yards, when we halted and prepared to make another 
charge upon the enemy. Though we charged desperately, the 
result was as before. Pinson dispatched to V^n Dorn. that it was 
impossible, when so outnumbered, to dislodge the enemy; and 
this is the reply he received, which I know to be true, for Latt 
was the bearer of the micssage : "Hold your position as long as 
possible; you shall be reinforced". In order to hold his position, 
Pinson again charged but with like result. As we began the 
third charge, my horse was rapidly growing weaker from loss of 
blood flowing freely from a wound received in the first charge, 
and I was ordered by Cousin Jefit in command of the company to 
fall out of ranks and go to the rear. This order I obeyed with 
alacrit\\ 1 was immediately joined by Cousin Latt and several 
others with wounded horses. Soon Starkes' regiment, com- 
manded by }vIajor Jones, came up in g'allant style to the support 
of Pinson, forming on our left. Then Ballentine formed left of 
the pike. A charge was inmiediately made, and the Federals 
were routed and driven into town. Major Jones and Colonel 
Ballentine followed t'nem closely through the streets and, like 
Pinson's men, punished them severely. The Federals, howver. 
under cover of their artillery, succeeded in crossing Flarpeth Riv- 
er. After collecting a considerable amount of valuable spoils, and 
being shelled by the Federal batteries, we rode out of Franklin. 
Had not many of the Federal infantry taken refuge in the court- 
house and other brick buildings and kept up therefrom such a 
continuous fire, many prisoners might have been brought otf 
with us. We remained in tb.e vicinity of FVanklin, keeping the 
enemy beyond the Harpcth, till late in the day, when we with- 
drew into camp. 

"Bill Jackson, of Co. G, was slightly wounded in the chin; 
Montague's, Holberg's, Billy Pagan's and John Hudson's horses 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. ?5 

were killed; Latt's and mine so badly wounded, that they were 
condemned ; Tom Brooks's horse was slightly wounded ; Lieuten- 
ants Deupree, Day, and Foote led the company bravely in every 
charge, the two last untouched, and the former struck by a minie 
ball on the shin bone below the knee and receiving thus a black 
and sorely bruised spot that lingered many days, though no bone 
was broken and no blood Vv'as shed. Company F had J. J. Hunter 
painfully wounded in the foot, and suffered some in horse-flesh. 
Company A lost one man killed, and had two wounded by a 
grape-shot, and lost in horses about as we did. Company E had 
one man killed. Company C lost one man killed and had four 
wounded. Companies D and I, each, lost four men wounded ; 
but their loss in horses did not equal ours. Companies E and C 
suffered some loss in horses, I do not know how much. 

''Starkes' regiment lost eleven men killed and forty-two 
wounded. Ballentine's loss was slight, 

"I am grateful to God for His preserving care in answer to 
the prayers of loved ones at home. 

Affectionately, your son, 

John." . 

the assassination of van dorn. 

It was now dark and our cavalr}^ withdrew to Spring Hill. Not 
long afterwards, Forrest was sent in pursuit of Streight v;ho 
was bent on destroying the Confederate munition-plant at Rome, 
Ga. Van Dorn and his statt occupied the house of Dr. Peters, a 
prominent citizen of Spring Hill, wdiile his body-guard 
bivouacked not far away. Being alert, fearless, and skillful, 
Van Dorn gave the enemy great cause for vigilance and anx- 
iety, and some of them would not have scrupled to employ any 
means, hovv-ever reprehensible, to get rid of him. On ^lay Tth, 
General V^an Dorn sat at his desk in conference with a member 
of his staff in his office on the second floor. Dr. Peters, with 
evil intent, though pretending the greatest friendliness, entered 
the room and requested a passport to go into Nashville through 
the Confederate lines. The statl-officer withdrew, as \^an Dorn 
turned to his desk to write the passport. Then, just as Van Doin 
had finished the signature, Dr. Peters, standing at his back, hred 
the fatal bullet through his head, seized the passport, walked 
quietly out of the room and down stairs through the hall. 


76 Mississippi Historical Scxiety. 

mounted his horse at the gate, and rode rapidly across the fields to 
the P^ederal Hnes before the alarm could spread and troopers be 
sent in pursuit. But soon all was excitement and confusion, for 
thousands of desperate horsemen were prepared to chase the fu- 
gitive, but too late! Had they caught him, he would have been 
instantly torn to pieces. He remained under Federal protection 
till the war ended. It was rumored that he went directly to Nash- 
ville and received his reward. It is a fact, at any rate, that after 
the war he soon recovered his plantation on the Mississippi and 
held it till his death. Unfortunately for us, thus passed away the 
brilliant Van Dorn, hero of more than z score of battles and just 
on the verge, as we believed, of entering on the greatest enter- 
prise he had ever conceived, to w^it, the invasion of Ohio with 
his invincible corpi of cavalry. General Joseph E. Johnston tele- 
graphed to Adjutant S. Cooper at Richmond, Va., "I have just 
received the painful intelligence of the death of the distinguished 
Major-General Earl Van Dorn, which occurred this morning at 
Spring Hill." General W. H. Jackson issued General Order No. 
3, from which I quote these words, w^hich so fittingly depict Van 
Dorn's character: ''Upon the battlefield, he was, indeed, the very 
personification of courage and chivalry. No knight of the olden 
time ever advanced to the contest more eagerly; and, after the 
fury of the struggle was over, none was ever more generous and 
humane to the sufferers than he. As a commanding officer, he 
was warmly beloved and highly respected ; as a gentleman, his 
social qualities were of the rarest order; and for goodness of 
heart he had no superior. His deeds have rendered his name 
worthy to be enrolled beside the proudest in the Confederate 
Capitol and will ever be fondly cherished in the hearts of his 


Brigadier-General W. H. Jackson w^as now the ranking ofiicer 
of the cavalry corps until Forrest, after capturing Streight, re- 
turned to Spring Hill and assumed command on ]March 16th. A 
few days later, General Jackson was ordered wdth his division of 
Wliitfield's and Cosby's brigades to return to his former field of 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deuprcc. 77 

operations in Mississippi. Cosby's brigade now included King's 
batiery, Pinson's First Mississippi, Starke's Twenty-eighth Mis- 
sissippi, Gordon's Second Mississippi, and Ballentine's regiment, 
mostly Tennesseeans but containing one ^lississippi company, 
\ commanded by Captain R, H. Taylor of Sardis, — a splendid com- 

pany and admirably officered. After a long and monotonous 
march, we reached Mechanicsburg the latter part of May, on the 
right wing of the army which General Joseph E. Johnston was as- 
sembling to relieve Vicksburg, after General Pemberton, in vio- 
lation of orders, had allowed himself to be shut in. Captain Iler- 
rin's Squadron, which had been on detached duty near Poca- 
hontas, to our gratification, rejoined the regiment; and we also 
welcomed the return of Lieutenant-Colonel ^lontgomery, who in 
consequence of ill-health, had been absent on furlough for several 
weeks. Colonel Ross was now commanding Whitfield's brig"ade, 
which at this time also. included Jackson's old regiment, the Sev- 
enth Tennessee, and also, perhaps Wirt Adams' regiment. W'e 
were in constant touch with the enemy, and frequent skirmishes 
along our picket lines resulted in small losses to either side. Per- 
haps, the letter I find in Montgomery's Reminiscences, will more 
clearly reveal the situation, as it was written in our camp here. 
It is as follows : 

*'Camp near Mechanicsburg, June 2Sth, 1863. 

"* * * A few days ago, two regiments from the command 
%vere sent out on a scout, and had a pretty sharp fight with the 
Yankees, killing 30 and capturing unvv-ounded as many more; 
our own loss beins: 20 killed and wounded. Howell Hinds, a free 
lighter with Adams' regiment, was dangerously wounded. A few 
days later, General Cosby led us out again, but we saw no Yan- 
kees. Colonel Pinson is out of camp, sick. I expect him back to- 
day. * * * It is impossible to say where or when General 
Johnston will move. No one knows but himself. ^^ * * p^^ 
this camp we hear every cannon fired at Vicksburg; and for 
days and nights the firing has been terrific. I hone Jolinston 
will move against the enemy in time to save the city. lUit his 
r>lans are known only to himself. The other day, a lady asked 
him some questions, to whom lie rephed, 'H my hat knew my 
thoughts, I would burn it up'. He keeps his own counsel". 

'I he Howell Hinds mentioned alx)ve was a son of General 

78 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Thomas IliDcls, who won fame under General Andrew Jackson in 
the War of 1812. Though badly woinided, Howell Hinds re- 
covered, only to be killed in Greenville two years after the war. 
while trying to separate two of his friends engaged in a pistol 

Every day we anxiously awaited orders to advance, ever ready 
to move at a moment's notice. But the fateful day found us still 
in camp here and on that day Colonel Montgomery in a letter 
wrote, as follows : 

*'Camp near rvTechanicsburg, July 4th, 18G8. 
* * * * We are living i)retty hard at present, some days 
faring moderately well and on oiliers badly. Nearly every day, 
however, some of the boys bring me a pint or more of black- 
berries, which are very plentiful now and Vvhich I enjoy very 
much. Roasting ears are ripe, too, and we caimot starve, nor can 
our horses. Time drags on. We have not yet attacked the en- 
emy. But the attack may begin at any time, and I believe we 
shall be able to whip the Yankees and relieve our gallant anny in 
Vicksburg, who have been shut up for so many weeks and ex- 
posed to incessant storms of shot and shell. More than 50,000 
shells have been throw^n into the city, according to the best esti- 
mates, and our army loses many killed and wounded by these 
missiles every day ; among them, valuable officers. * * * 
The signs are favorable. A New York paper a few days ago 
advocated peace upon terms w^hich would recognize our inde- 
pendence, equitably divide the territories, and grant tl:e border 
States the privilege of choosing for themselves whether they will 
remain in the Union or join the Confederacy. Nothing now but 
some great victory, like the fall of \^icksbiirg. can reanimate the 
North. But even with tlie loss of Vicksburg no true Southerner 
would despair. It would only prolong the war." 


We know now that even while Colonel Montgomery was pen- 
ciling this interesting letter to his wife, negotiations were in 
progress between Grant and Pemberton, and th.e great victory 
for the North and disaster for the South became an accomplished 
fact, though several hours must pass before we could know it. 

On July 4th, we broke camp and in the afternoon marched 
down the west side of Bi;^ Black about twentv miles and 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 79 

bivouacked near the river. Not far away pontoons had been laid, 
and our infantry and artillery had received orders to begin cross- 
ing the river by daylight on the 5th ; and, with our cavalry in ad- 
vance, they were to assail Grant's right w^ing, with a view to giv- 
ing Pemberton an opportunity to witlidraw his army from Vicks- 
burg. But, unfortunately for the South, this was not to be. 

"Alas ! for the Southron, that struggle was o'er ; 
. -^ Our banners w^ere waving over Vicksburg no more ; 
The Stripes of the Yankees were floating instead; 
And the hopes of Mississippi were broken and dead." 

More than half a century has passed since this sad surrender, 
but I still feel that Pemberton chose the wrong day for capitula- 
tion. Many pronounced him a traitor; if so, may God forgive 
him! But this victory fired the Northern heart with rejiewed de- 
termination to redouble their efforts to subjugate us. and this de- 
feat spoiled for us the joy of July 4th forever, for how can we 
participate in its celebrating and thus apparently rejoice in the 
surrender of Vicksburg? Pemberton must have known John- 
ston's intention and should have held out a few days longer, at 
all hazards. 

Just before daylight on the 5th, a courier reported the stir- 
rcnder of Vicksburg, and we were ordered to cross Big Black. 
Our wagons w^ent towards Jackson, wdiile we proceeded south 
and struck the V. & !^I. railroad between Edwards and Bovina. 
We began to destroy the track, removing and twisting the rails 
and burning the crossties. as we retired slowly towards Jackson, 
followed closely by the enemy in great numbers. We found 
Jackson entrenched and defended by Johnston's army. We 
passed through the city and went into camp east of the Pearl. Wc 
rested here till Jackson was evacuated on the night of the 16th, 
when we were ordered to fall behind the army and to cover its 
retreat. We took position between Jackson and Brandon. One 
day Pemberton rode through our camp to get to the railroad 
and take a train for Richmond, Va. His downcast and sorrowful 
countenance e:xcited commiseration. Reaching: Richmond, he re-" 

so Mississippi Historical Society. 

signed his coimnission as Lieutcnant-General, and we heard of 
him no more during- the war. Afterwards, to his credit be it said, 
he died poor and obscure, and thus he was reheved of the sus- 
picion that he had been a traitor. 


The infantry and artillery moved on to Meridian. We re- 
mained in Rankin County, inactive for sometime. One day, a 
company of P>.deral infantry with several wagons had crossed the 
Pearl and were plundering the citizens. Captain Herrin's squad- 
ron was sent to intercept them. Within a few hours he returned 
to camp with GO prisoners and four wagons heavily loaded with 
all sorts of plunder. He had surprised the Federals. In the 
resulting fight, he had suffered no loss and but one Federal was 
killed. A few days later, a terrific thunderstorm passed over our 
camp and private High of the Pontotoc Dragoons was killed by 
lightning. The following extract from a letter written by Colonel 
Montgomery will give a good idea of the prevailing sentiment in 
our command at the time: 

''Near Brandon, August 4th, 1863. 

"* * * The people from all parts of iMississippi are flee- 
ing to Alabama and Georgia, and I don't know wliat is to be- 
come of them all nor how they are to live. I am convinced some 
effort ought to be made to save negro property by sending it off, 
yet it is best for families in the present state of affairs to remain 
at home, as they will lose less, besides saving themselves the an- 
noyance and trouble inevitable from running away. Besides, the 
best place they can run to may eventually prove unsafe. Ivlobile, 
doubtless, will soon be invested and probably fall, if the war lasts 
long. So may every stronghold ; but we will not be conquered, 
nor will we ever be, while our arm/ies are in the field and cur peo- 
ple are unsubdued. 

''Never despair; we shall yet have peace on terms honorable to 
the Soutli. News from Europe is by no means unfavorable. I 
am satisfied, Mr. Yancey is correct, when he says that England 
and France will intervene, whenever they think there is danger 
of our being conquered. But while there is no danger of that. 
there is danger that the war will yet last a long time, unless they 
intervTne, and tliis thev will do before the war ends. Louis Na- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 81 

poleon has broug-ht his war with Mexico to a close, and so certain 
as the sun rises and sets he will soon recognize our independence, 
whether any other nation does or not. 

**I believe a great battle will soon be foug-ht in V^irginia with 
important results, for just now the North believes that, if Lee 
can be whipped, the war will be practically over. * * -i= gut, 
even should Lee be defeated, and though Richmond be captured, 
tens of thousands of Southern men will never lay dov/n their 
arms nor give up the struggle till they have wrested victory 
from their enemies ; and among that number, if life and health 
be spared, I know, my dear wife, while you would mourn the 
necessity, you would be proud to count me. For we are fig-hting 
for all we hold dear on earth; and eternal shame and dishonor 
await those who may refuse to sacrifice all in defense of home 
and liberty." 


Of course all hope of foreign intervention in our behalf proved 
to be but the "stuff dreams are made of". B}^ 6 o'clock next 
morning, w^e were ordered to Jackson. The Federals had with- 
drawn, and we proceeded to Fayette. General Clark, who had 
been desperately wounded, was living here, still unable to walk, 
but still defiant. He had been exchanged; and later, incapable 
of military service, he was made governor. After a brief stay in 
Fayette, we moved eastward and then northw^ard, passed through 
Terry and encamped near Jackson for a few days. The object 
of this scout, I suppose, was to encourage the people, for we had 
not seen even one enemy. 


Next, our regiment was ordered to join Jackson's division at 
Lexington. Here we participated in a grand review, in which the 
division made a magnificent display. This, too, tended to cheer 
the spirits of the people, who could not fail to observe that the 
cavalry were again ready for active work and sanguine of ulti- 
mate success. Horses and men were in excellent condition, well 
prepared for fall and winter campaigns. Winter-Quarters were 
not thought of. Even tents had long ago disappeared. But 
under any and all sorts of weather conditions, wherever and 

82 Mississippi Historical Society. 

whenever even a temporary lialt was made, the men had learned 
to improvise adequate shelter. I-'or convenience in procuring sub- 
sistence from the country, brigades and regiments been sep- 
arated by intervals of mile.-., but all were so located as to watch 
the enemy and to be within easy call of division headquarters, in 
case it became necessary for them to be massed quickly and un- 
expectedly. For some weeks we had little to do except to send 
out pickets and scouting parties so as to keep in touch with any 
hostile movements of the enemy along the Mississippi or the Ya- 
zoo River, where they had considerable forces. The Sixth Texas 
and the First Mississippi were thrown together. Colonel Sul Ross, 
as senior to Colonel Pinson, being in command of the brigade; 
for General Cosby had been assigned to duty elsewhere, and we 
never saw him again. He was a splendid oiiicer, when sober; 
and, when not, the adjutant-general would invariably let the 
ranking colonel of the brigade know it. At any rate, we were 
happy to be under Ross, one of the best cavalrymen in the ser- 
vice, in whose subsequent promotion we all rejoiced. Also, I 
will say incidentally, just here, that those of us who survived the 
war and for a time lived in the Lone Star State, were especially 
delighted when he was elected governor and were proud of his 
splendid administration of that high office, as well as of the uni- 
versal esteem and love wdiich the people always manifested for 


One day at Richland, General Reuben Davis visited our camp 
and made an able and very eloquent speech, wdiich we all thor- 
oughly enjoyed. Fie had seen service in the w^ar with Mexico, 
and at this time he was a candidate for governor against Gen- 
eral Clark. Confederate soldiers were by law entitled to vote for 
governor; and, in exercising this privilege, we cast our ballots 
overwhelmingly for General Charles Clark, who because of his 
wounds could not make a canvass. Some years after the war, 
General Davis published his ''Rc}]iiutscc>ices of a Long Life/' 
which easily rivalled in merit and interest Baldwyn's "Fliisli 
Times in Alabama and Mississippi/' 

TIic Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 83 

The citizens of Richland and vicinity gave our brigade a great 
barbecue. Long tables were filled with perfectly barbecued and 
highly seasoned beef and mutton, roasting ears, sweet potatoes, 
and many other good things too numerous to mention here. We 
all eagerly showed our appreciation in the most direct and prac- 
tical way. For once, at any rate, every man in the two regiments 
had aH he could eat and as much as he could carry away in his 
haversack. Next day, the fair ladies of Richland presented a new 
battleflag to the First Mississippi. The field was blue. The red 
diagonals formed a cross bearing eleven white stars, for the elev- 
en Confederate States, the largest star being at the intersection 
of the diagonals in the centre of the flag. A bright yellov/ border 
encircled the whole. A most beautiful young lady mounted on a 
handsome horse made the presentation-speech in most charming 
style, to which this scribe responded in the purest and tersest 
English he could command. The flag was exceedingly beautiful 
and the regiment in appropriate resolutions expressed their 
thanks and appreciation. Socn it w^as to wave in face of the foe; 
and, ere the year closed, two brave boys had shed their precious 
blood while bearing it to victory. It was our battle flag till the 
end of the war. 


In the last days of October, Ross with his own and Pinson's 
regiment was ordered to the Tennessee Valley to retard the prog- 
ress of Sherman on his march from Corinth to reinforce Grant 
at Chattanooga. We rode across the country to Pontotoc. Leav- 
ing our vvagons there, we carried five days' cooked rations and 
reached Pride's Station on the 2^1. & C. railroad about ten miles 
west of Tuscumbia, just ahead of Sherman's advance detach- 
ment, which our scouts reported as coming on rapidly. About 
six miles west of Tuscumbia, on a high and rocky and wooded 
hill stood a country church. At the base of the hill ran the rail- 
road, and a mile away towards Tuscumbia flowed a creek, fringed 
with forest trees. At the church, Ross made his first stand. Late 
in the afternoon, a company of Texans, deployed as pickets and 
standing on a hill a mile in front of us, saw the advancing: Fed- 

84 Mississippi Historical Society. 

erals as they moved steadily forward. Between the hills, the 
country was open, and from our hill we could plainly see the 
Texans holding their own against odds, until the ever-increasing 
numbers of the enemy compelled our Texans to yield ground, 
which they did slowly, deliberately, and in perfect order, with the 
loss of many horses and a few men wounded, most of them but 
slightly. The enemy's infantry and artillery seized tlie hill which 
Ross's men had left, and with a rain of shells made our posi- 
tion at the church quite uncomfortable, especially as we had no 
artillery and our carbines could do them but little harm a mile 
away. How we got off with so few casualties is among the 
marvels of the war. It was late and the enemy did not follow 
that night. Ross led his command across the creek, which 
seemed a good line of defense. Though our strength was totally 
inadequate, Ross determined to contest every foot of ground and 
to delay Sherman as much as possible on his march towards 

As soon as day dawned, riiie-firing began. Our pickets, a com- 
pany of Texans and a company of Alississippians, were not eas- 
ily driven. As they were well posted and well protected, the sun 
was up more than twenty degrees, before they withdrew, as they 
did in good order and with slight loss. Heavy lines of hostile 
infantry and two batteries of artillery followed them closely. 
When they came within range of our two regiments holding the 
line of the creek, the firing became fast and furious. Here we 
held our position firmly till a large flanking force was reported to 
be moving south of us ; and then we retired, having lost a few 
men killed and about forty wounded. As the enemy came for- 
ward in close array through the open, while we were more or 
less screened by the timber skirting the creek, their loss must have 
greatly exceeded oiu's, especially as we were veterans and well 
armed. We buried our dead near Tuscumbia and placed the 
wounded in a hospital improvised for the occasion. But alas ! 
among the wounded was our youthful, gallant, and dearly be- 
loved adjutant, William E. Beasley, whom Colonel Pinson sent 
home to Macon, Miss., in care of Dr. Shelt Wellbourne, a physi- 
cian in the Noxubee Cavalry, in which Beasley still claimed 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 85 

membership. Thougli he was seriously wounded in the leg, it 
was believed he would be able to endure the long" trip through 
Alabama in an ambulance ; and so he did. But his wound had 
not been thoroughly disinfected, nor had it been properly dressed 
for several days before he arrived in Macon. Consequently, gan- 
grene had set in, and amputation below the knee was impera- 
tive. After a few days, gangrene again appeared, necessitating 
a second amputation, this time above the knee. A day or two 
passed, when suddenly a tie of the artery gave way and this 
patient and heroic sufterer quickly bled to death. He w'as a mere 
boy, under twenty years of age, as chaste and modest as a 
maiden, yet as brave and fearless as Julius Caesar. His mem- 
ory will be cherished and loved as long as a member of the First 
Mississippi Cavalry survives. The noble spirits of his father and 
younger brother, as previously recorded in this narrative, had 
preceded him to the glory-land, their lives like his having been 
sacrificed in the same lioly cause. At this writing, a sister, Mrs. 
Connie Beasley Owen, is the only survivor of the illustrious 
Beasley family of Noxubee County. 

This was our hardest struggle with Sherman's men. We fell 
back, sometimes directly facing the enemy and sometimes hov- 
ering on his flanks. Sherman evidently did not like our close 
and persistent attention ; for, ere we reached Decatur, he crossed 
the Tennessee and continued his march north of that river. We 
then withdrew and camped a day or more at the biggest spring 
I ever saw. A thousand horses could easily be watered there at 
the same time. As we could render no further service in the 
Tennessee Valley, we v^-ere again transferred to Mississippi. We 
crossed the mountains, and the latter part of November we were 
again in Pontotoc. 


Here, to our great gratification, we found our wagons, for we 
bad been without regular rations for weeks. However, if cav- 
alry be given food for their horses, the men will contrive some- 
how to live. We remained in Pontotoc several days. The peo- 
ple all gladly contributed to our enjoyment. This was the home 

86 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of Colonel Pinson, and Pontotoc County was the home of two 
of our best companies ; and all did their utmost to extend a 
hearty welcome and entertainment to their comrades in the First 
Mississippi and Sixth Texas. Of course, while here we saw lit- 
tle of our beloved Colonel, for this was also the home of the 
accomplished Miss Sina Duke, whom a few months later he led 
as a bride to the altar. At this writing, she still survives and with 
her sister lives in a handsome and commodious home in the city 
of Memphis, honored and revered by all the survivors of the 
thousands who knew and loved Col. R. A. Pinson. 


From Pontotoc we were ordered to Nev; Albany to report to 
General S. D. Lee, who had assembled here other commands. 
Under Lee, we marched north, striking the M. & C. railroad be- 
tween Middleton and Saulsbury, in order to escort General For- 
rest and his small force into West Tennessee, where Forrest was 
to encourage the people and to gather recruits. As Forrest pro- 
ceeded north, Lee moved Vv'est along the railroad, destroying it 
as he went and making it useless to the enemy, while also divert- 
ing attention from Forrt^st. Flaving passed La Grange and 
gone around Moscow, which was strongly garrisoned, we struck 
the railroad again several miles west of ^loscow and tore up 
the track, especially to prevent reinforcements from Memphis 
coming to the aid of ^Moscow. Then with the view of assailing 
Moscow, General Lee headed his column east and proceeded at 
a rapid trot. Lieutenant S. B. Day, of the Noxubee Cavalry, 
as daring an officer as the regiment could furnish, led the ad- 
vance-guard of twenty m.en from the Noxubee Squadron, ten 
from Company F and ten from Company G, including George 
Alford, T. S. Brooks, J. G. Deupree, Chcsley Jarnagin, Jake 
Holberg, and others whose names cannot at this t^me be recalled. 
We were about one-hundred yards in front of the regiment, 
and Lieutenant Day had orders to charge whatever hostile force 
he might encounter. From the top of a ridge which overlooked the 
Wolf River bottom lying between us and Moscow, the country 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dciipree. 87 

was open, with the exception of a fringe of forest trees a hun- 
dred yards wide, or less, immediately along" the river's bank. 
Wolf River was narrow and deep, with precipitous banks and 
well-nigh impassable otherwise than by means of the bridge. 
Lieutenant Day, on ascending the ridge and looking towards 
Moscow, saw several hundred cavalry and some artillery that 
,had evidently just come across the bridge, and others following. 
He promptly ordered and led the charge. Raising the rebel yell, 
we followed Day at full speed. Intuitively taking in the situa- 
tion, Colonel Pinson, w^ith General Lee riding beside him, like- 
wise led the regiment at full speed ; and, fronting into line, 
struck the enemy like a thunderbolt from the clear sky. For a 
brief interval, we were exposed to a severe fire, especially those 
of us in the advance-guard. The Federals used cannon as well 
as carbines, one small piece being fired several times from the 
"business-end" of a mule. But quicker than the story can be 
told, w^e drove them into the river and many of them were 
drowned. Some of them escaped across the bridge. Never was 
victory more swift and complete. They lost not less than 175 
in killed and wounded. Besides, we captured not less than 40 
horses and unwounded men. Reinforcements from Moscow held 
the bridge and prevented our crossing into towm. 'However, 
from our side of the river we poured into them from carbines 
and pistols such a fusilade as to drive them to the fortifications. 
We suffered severe losses. Lieutenant Miller, the promising 
young son of our former Colonel, was killed while bearing the 
regimental flag; after him, another brave boy was shot down, 
as he raised it over his head ; but the third, who seized the falling 
colors, bore them till the victory was achieved. Colonel Pinson 
as always, was in the thickest of the fray, sitting erect on his 
horse and cheering his men. Seeing one of his old company fir- 
ing from behind a tree, he suggested tliat better sight and bet- 
ter aim could be had, if he would step in front of the tree. The 
soldier at once took the hint and stepped in front. As he did so, 
he was wounded in the right arm, but he continued firing till the 
fight ended. 

Of our twenty with Sam Day, scarcely one escaped entirely, 


.!'■-■ t. 

88 Mississippi Historical Society. I 

every one being shot or having his liorse shot under him, though 1 

most of the wounds were sHght. I remember some of the un- | 

fortunatcs now : J. Chcsley Jarnagin, eldest and noble son of 
the eminent lawyer and jurist, Hampton L. Jarnag'n, of Macon, 
was killed by a bullet through his brain. Jake Holberg, as brave 
a trooper as ever drew sabre, was painfully wounded by a can- 
non ball, which passed through the shoulder of his horse and 
then carried away his stirrup and his great toe. From excessive 
pain Jake v;as impelled to exclaim, "Mein Gott! O mein Gott!" 
At once I asked where he was hit. He continued to scream, "O 
mein Gott! mein Gott! mein toe!" Alas! his toe was gone for- 
ever! and henceforth Jake was assuredly to be to a certain ex- 
tent, no-to(e)-ri-ous. But he survived the Avar and lived a long 
and useful life, always ready to help a Confederate veteran and 
to serve his city and State to the best of his ability. Macon had 
no better citizen. I wish I could name every hero who on that day 
shed blood for his country. About 40 were killed in the First 
Mississippi. The Sixth Texas got into the firing line just as the 
fighting ceased. 


This was the last fight on this raid. By December 22d, we 
were again not far from Jackson, brigaded with the Twenty- 
eighth Mississippi, Starke as Senior Colonel now being in com- 
mand. The month of January, 18G-t. was bitterly cold, and we 
did only as much as was absolutely necessary. We remained in 
front of Jackson and the railroad was in operation to Meridian. 
Early in Februar}', Shenrian began again to invade Mississippi. 
'General Leonidas Polk was in Meridian in command of the De- 
partment, but his army was small. Jackson's cavalry could hope 
only to delay and harass the march of Shennan's large and well- 
equipped army, so that Polk might be adequately reinforced and 
prepared to give battle between Jackson and Meridian. With 
three regiments of cavalry and King's battery, we were well 
posted on a hill ten miles northwest of Clinton, on or near the 
plantation of General Joe Davis, when the Federals were seen 
a mile or more away on another hill. Several regiments of in- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 89 

fantry, with one or more batteries of artillery, preceded by a 
heavy line of skirmishers, advanced steadily iu battle-array, evi- 
dently despising" the sniallness of our force. A little dog" trotted 
gaily along in front of them, as if they simply meant only to set 
him on us in order to show their contempt for our cavalry. At 
any rate, we felt it as an insult. By a few well-aim.ed shots, the 
little dog was either killed or driven out of sight. But we could 
never learn whether the dog was the ''mascot" of some regiment 
or merely a ''scalawag" deserter from the loyal dogs of the State. 
In the brief engag-ement that followed, few of us were hurt and 
but one man killed, — a member of King's battery. What casu- 
alties occurred am,ong the Federals we never ascertained. Next 
morning not far from Qinton, in a sharp skirmish without dis- 
mounting, we inflicted considerable loss upou the enemy, while 
v/e had only a few horses and men disabled. We made our next 
stand in the breastworks at Jackson on the Clinton road near 
the present home of Bishop Bratton. Holding this position, w^e 
did considerable execution, before the enemy by a flank move- 
ment on our left threatened our line of retreat. Then we hastily 
mounted and rode rapidly till we had crossed the railroad into 
Capitol street, and then somewhat less rapidly till w^e came to 
West street. Here, as we turned north, we passed Judge Wil- 
liam Yerger standing on the sidewalk that borders the Gc-ver- 
nor's Mansion. Many Icnew this famous lawyer and greeted 
him alTectionately. He returned most graciously the salutes ; 
and, as we passed on, he was still standing and gazing towards 
the railroad station, while the Federals were approaching it in 
great numbers. We rode on at a slower pace and bivouacked 
north of the Insane Asylum. Next morning we crossed the 
Pearl and followed a road leading east, parallel with the A. & V. 
railroad and north of it, while Sherman's army was marching 
•'ilong a similar road south of the A. & V. R. R. Our force was 
too weak to make effective resistance, and we could only restrict 
the sweep of devastation by compelling the Federals to march in 
compact masses and keep their columns well closed uj). 

We reached Meridian on February 18th, and General Polk 
had already crossed the Tombigbce into Alabama. It was a part 


90 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of Sherman's plan for Smith and Grierson's forces to converg-e 
and join him in Meridian; but the iibiquit^ous Forrest had 
thwarted this well-conceived strategy. While under orders to 
go to Forrest's support, soon after passing through Macon we 
learned of Forrest's brilliant victory over Smith and received 
orders to go towards Jackson and harass Sherman on his retreat 
to Vicksburg. 

By March 1st, we had reached Sharon a few miles from Can- 
ton. In a fight next day v.ith a detachment from ^McPherson's 
corps, in which v,x had a few horses killed and a fevv men 
wounded more or less seriously, Colonel ^lontgomery had a nar- 
row escape when his horse was shot and killed under him. On 
this occasion, Dr. Montgomery, our brigade surgeon, thought it 
would be fine sport and rode out to the firing line, but not liking 
the music of the minies soon reached the conclusion that a doctor 
would better be at his own business, dressing the wounds of 
■others than risking a wound himself. Pie had ridden only a 
hundred yards towards the rear, when a Federal battery opened 
fire and the first shot killed the doctor's new blooded horse, which 
he valued very highly. 

In the afternoon, the First Mississippi was ordered on a scout 
near Canton. To avoid a large part of McPherson's corps, we 
made a detour by a neighborhood road running west, which 
would lead into the main road that ran nearly due south into 
Canton. The Noxubee Squadron was in front with Lieutenant 
Foote in command of the advance-guard, which included T. S; 
Brooks, Nat Pierce, Dallas Pack, Henry Foote, and some others, 
whose names I regret I cannot recall. Just before coming back 
into the main Caiiton road, Lieutenant Foote detected the rear 
of a Federal wagon train passing the intersection of the roads 
and moving south, towards Canton. The infantry guard follow- 
ing the train was fully a quarter of a mile behind it. As usual, 
quick to take in the situation, L-eutenant Foote led a charge 
against the wagons while the Noxubee Cavalry joined him. 
We thus captured and brought ofT nine splendid six- 
mule teams and as many wagons loaded with food and 
forage enough for our brigade for many days. But as Cant. 

'Die Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcuprce. 91 

Craven, at the head of the Noxubee Troo[)ers, immediately fol- 
lowing- us, reached the forks of the road, the rear guard of Fed- 
eral infan:r.- was approaching- at double-quick, determined to 
e^ave their v, agons. Without the slightest hesitation, Craven led 
a brilliant cl-.arge against the infantry, routing tliem completely 
and bring-: ::g off about forty unwounded prisoners. Craven's 
loss included a few horses shot and fewer men woimded, among 
them J, J. Hunter, brother of Lieutenant Charley Hunter and 
one of the bravest of the patriotic Hunter family. He carried 
the scar of honor till death many years after peace had been de- 
clared. As :t was now night-fall and our proximity to McPher- 
son's corps was too close to be comfortable, we v/ithdrew, leav- 
ing the Federal dead and wounded to the care of their own com- 

Around :ur campfire that night, among other incidents re- 
lated was iJi adventure by Lewis Perkins, one of the best sol- 
diers of the Noxubee Cavalry. He had pursued a fleeing Fed- 
eral trooper to the edge of the woods, wdien the latter suddenly 
wheeled and began shooting at him with one of the arm^y pistols 
drawn frca the holster on the pommel of his saddle. Perkins 
reined up. drew his own navy-six and returned the fire till but 
one ball re-r-^ined in the cylinder. Then, while the Federal con- 
tinued to dre. Perkins very deliberately took careful aim, know- 
ing it was 'zLi last and only chance ; and, as he fired, his foeman 
threw up h_s arm and fell to the ground, exclaiming, *'You have 
kilt me. S:r '. Perkins found in his pockets money, jewelry, and 
a lady's v-itdh marked with her initials. Next day, guided by 
an old cid-ien of the neighborhood, he found the lady, who told 
him how r^oely the German villain had robbed and insulted her 
and how she had said to him, "I shall pray to God that you may 
Jicvcr live t:> enjoy what you have stolen". To this, he replied, 
**i don't n-rit fear dein Gott". Perkins then said to her, ''Madam, 
your prayrr has been answered". He then handed her all her 
jewelry oztd her watch. Of course, Perkins declined any com- 
I>ensatioc :. but it may be added, that in answer to the prayers 
<'f this ^':.:d lady, Perkins survived the war and was permitted 

92 Mississippi Historical Scx:iety. 

to live many years as an honored and useful citizen of Noxubee 

Within a few days, Sherman's army withdrew into Vicksburg, 
but we followed them closely, so as to circumscribe their depre- 
dations within the narrowest limits possible. About March lOth, 
we went into camp at Moore/s Bluff on the Big Black, after hav- 
ing been almost constantly in the saddle for more than thirty 
days. Of course, we rejoiced to meet our wagons here. It is 
needless to say wq spent a pleasant month, till men and horses 
could be made ready for further service. Colonel Pinson was 
furloughed that he might go to Pontotoc to marry the highly 
accomplished Miss S. E. Duke. Early in April, Jackson's divi- 
sion was ordered to Grenada and thence to Colum^bus to pre- 
pare for a long march to Johnston's army in Georgia. Colonel 
Pinson rejoined us ere we reached Columbus. About a day's 
march from Grenada, that dashing cavalryman, General Frank 
C. Armstrong met us and was assigned to the command of our 
brigade, which he retained till the end of the war. From Colonel 
Montgomery's "Reminiscences'^ I clip the following pertinent 

"Woodburn, Va., August IC. 1900. 
"Colonel Frank A. Montgomery, 

*'My dear friend : — 

Yours of the 12th received. I am here for a few weeks dur- 
ing this very hot spell. I was very glad to hear again from you, i 
for I love to be in touch with my old comrades of the war. Yes ; i 
you are correct ; my first service with your gallant regiment w^as ■ 
our raid around Bolivar, Tenn. I assumed permanent command 
of the Mississippi Brigade near Grenada, en route to Johnston's 
army in Georgia, and retained command till the end of the w^ar. 
After the battle of Chickamaugua, I went with Longstreet to 
East Tennessee, and by renuest of Forrest and Lee was trans- 
ferred to Mississippi. When orders came to send Jackson's 
division to Georgia, I expressed a desire for service in front of 
Atlanta, and was assigned to the old brigade, each regiment of 
which I had known well Ijefore. Thougli I gave up a larger 
command and district. I never regretted it, as the honor and sat- 
isfaction of commanding that glorious old Mississippi brigade, 
the First, tlie Second, the Twenty-eighth, and Ballentinc's rcgi- 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 9:5 

ment, with King's Missouri battery, was my pride. Always 
ready, perfectly reliable, and under all circumstances and condi- 
tions efficient, it was then, and has since ever been my pride to 
be remembered as the commander of such patriotic and heroic 

In Georgia, and on Hood's advance into Tennessee, and on the 
retreat from Nashville to the Tennessee River, they were always 
nearest to the enemy and they never faltered- Often without 
rations or forage, with nothing but their determination and hon- 
orable sense of duty to sustain them, they stood their ground, 
yielding only under orders. When we returned to Tupelo, you 
will remember, with General Dick Taylor's consent I furloughed 
the brigade, and I pledged myself that these regiments would 
return at the appointed time better equipped and mounted than 
they were when furloughed. They faithfully kept my pledge. 
I can truly say that they v/ere ahvays loyal to their duty and to 
the cause, and they never failed me in a single instance. My love 
and respect for you all will only end when I am dead. Of the 
dear old First iMississippi Cavalry, Colonel Dick Pinson, your- 
self, as well, as all the officers and privates, nothing is too com- 
plimentary. My confidence never wavered with the old First 
on the line. I hope to see some of these old friends of mine 
again. I cannot close without expressing to you, my dear old 
comrade, the great satisfaction you always gave me in the dis- 
charge of duty, as you frequently commanded the regiment. I 
was sometimes temporarily commanding the division, Pinson 
the brigade, and you the old First. You both did your duty so 
perfectly, that I always thought it a pity it could not be perma- 
nently so. I send you a photograph taken a few months ago. 
Would you knov/ it? 

Always, as heretofore, yours sincerely, 

Frank C. Armstrong." 

through alabama. 

We left Columbus, full of hope and confidence, and passed 
through Tuscaloosa, Monte vallo, Talladega, and Ainiiston, on 
our way to Rome, Ga. The pellucid streams, the charming val- 
leys, and the encircling mountains, as well as the hospitable citi- 
zens of towns and country, all contributed to our comfort and 
happiness. This region had not yet been ravaged by hostile 
bands nor traversed by many Cdu federates. We naturally gave 


94 Mississippi Historical Society. 

way to feeling's of joy and gladness while we could, for well \vc 
knew that erelong we should experience a rude contrast to these 
pacific and delightful scenes. 

On May 15th, we arrived at Rome. General Jackson being- 
away, Armstrong comananded the division, Pinson our brigade,, 
and Montgomery our regiment. Early next morning, Ross's bri- 
gade encountered a strong force of Federal cavalry, and Mont- 
gomery with the First Mississippi was sent to support Ross. 
After a short and sharp skirmish, the enemy became satisfied' 
and retired, having met much stouter resistance than had been 


We then rode all night and joined Johnston's army at Adairs- 
ville by daylight on the 17th, and immediately went into action 
on Wheeler's right. Here let me say in passing that from that 
day till the fall of Jonesboro on September 1st, we were so con- 
stantly engaged in skirmishing, scouting, and picketing, that it 
would be too tedious to go into minute details, and I shall under- 
take simply to tell something of the more important engagements 
in which \ve took part. General Jackson was kept too busy to 
find time to write reports and left no record of the operations 
of his command from May 6th to May 31st, nor from July 14th 
to October 9th, 1864. 

As stated above, we were sent to Wlieeler's aid, when he was 
doing his utmost to hold the enemy in check. The Federals, 
however, brought forward heavy reinforcements and drove 
Wheeler and Armstrong back. Then, Hardee's corps was or- 
dered out to resist the enemy's advance and Armstrong's brigade 
was ordered to support Hardee. In Johnsion's Narrative, it is 
simply stated that Jackson's cavalry had joined his army and 
that with Hardee's corps they had checked the advance of Slier- 
man. In fact, we fought in line with Hardee's corps for more 
than three hours and did not yield an inch of terrain : and our 
brigade lost 31. Being in the woods, we were somewhat pro- 
tected, for we did not scruple to utilize every available tree, log, 
or stump as a shelter from bullets. The Twenty-eighth lost 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 95 

more heavily than the First Mississippi, because it was the first 
of our regiments to get into the fight and was somewhat more 
exposed than the First. We made a most favorable impression 
on our infantry in line behind us, and they cheered us lustily 
as we were ordered to the rear. After dark, our army fell back, 
and we again marched all night to get into proper position on 
the left flank of the army to cover the retreat. Every old trooper 
of Armstrong's brigade now living will remem.ber that night. 
It was the second night we passed in the saddle with a busy day 
intervening. As short halts occurred at long intervals, the men 
would throw themselves on the ground to snatch a few minutes 
of sleep; but a great majority of us had learned to sleep in the 
saddle, and thus we fared better than our faithful horses. 


On the morning of the 18th, we reached Cassville. Our brigade 
was ordered out immediately to repel hostile cavalry advancing 
rapidly and but four miles away on the Fairmount road. In a 
lively skirmish for some hours, we inflicted some loss on the 
enemy and drove them from the field. We were then, to our 
gratification, ordered to go into camp behind the infantry. We 
needed both rest and food. Gladly we unsaddled our horses and 
fed them bountifully, and then w^e drew rations for ourselves. 

Next day. May 19th, we had but little to do, though there was 
firing along the whole front all day, as the enemy continued to 
press the rear-guard. Late in the afternoon, a ringing battle- 
order from General Johnston was read in every regiment, awak- 
ening the greatest enthusiasm in every breast. The position as- 
signed to Armstrong's brigade was on the extreme left of the 
army, adjoining Polk's corps. So thither we marched and 
bivouacked there about 9 o'clock that night. To our great sur- 
prise on awakening in the morning, our army had fallen back. 
Wheeler on the east and Jackson on the west screened the move- 
n^ents of the infantry. 

96 Mississippi Historical Society. 


On the 28th, our brigade was ordered to occupy some trenches 
on the left of Bates' division. In our immediate front, the trees 
and undergrowth were thick and effectually hid from our view 
the Federal works not more than two hundred yards awr.y. Gen- 
eral Armstrong had orders from General Bates at a given signal 
to charge the hostile entrenchments, supposed by General Bates 
to be held by a mere line of skirmishers. We were under the 
impression that Bates would advance synchronously v/iih us. 
Late in the afternoon the signal gun was fired, and with a wild 
yell we leaped from the trenches and rushed forward, the First 
Mississippi being next to Bates' men. We drove the enemy from 
his works and captured a battery. Bales' men failed to move 
forward ; and, in consequence, the enemy rallied, and enfiladed 
lis, thus compelling us to withdraw and to abandon the captured 
battery and leave our dead and some wounded on the field. With 
others under the immediate eye of Lieutenant Foore, Willis 
Hunter had been desperately wounded, and Jack White and J. 
G. Deuprcs were ordered to carry him back to our held hospital. 
To do this was one of the most tr}dng experiences we had dur- 
ing the war, for. the Federals returning to their works concen- 
trated rifle and cannon lire upon us as soon as our line began 
to withdraw. ^Missiles of death coming from behind are far 
more irigluful than when coming from the front, and every 
moment we felt that we would be struck down, but somehow we 
carried our burden through and committed dear Willis to the 
hospital. lie was another of the famous Flunter group to give 
his life to the cause, for he died within a few days. He and I 
had been schoolmates at Floward College, where he was uni- 
versally esteemed. I recall the name of another member of our 
Squadron killed here, that of Ed Crawford, also a gallant soldier, 
a member of Company F. The total loss in our brigade was 
171, almost equally distributed among our regiments. We lost 
many excellent officers and none better than Captains Herrin 
and Turner of the First Mississippi, who fell within the enemy's 
entrenchments. Flad Bates' division advanced with us, we might 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 97 

have held the Federal works and brought off many prisoners. 
Our charge was made down one hill and up another, the oppos- 
ing battery being on the crest of the hill and directly in front 
of our regimental centre. Behind the battery were strong earth- 
works filled with soldiers, thus rendering it impossible for us to 
hold what we had gained, when the riglit of our regiment, by 
Bates' men not coming forward, was thus exposed to enfilading 
fire by those Federals immediately fronting Bates. But when we 
reoccupied our own trenches, we hoped the Federals would then 
assail us, as we thought "turu about would be fair play", and 
we were sanguine that we could give them a hotter reception 
than they had given us. But they were content to shell us from 
a distance more' or less continuously during the night. The pris- 
oners we captured were amazed to find, as they said, ''the Con- 
federate infantry wearing spurs", mistaking us for the "web- 
footed", because we had assailed them so furiously. 

On June '3d. Sherman withdrew from our immediate front and 
extended his lines still further around Johnston's right wing. 
While Sherman and Johnston were playing their game of strat- 
tgy for many weeks and thousands of good men were shedding 
their blood, our cavalry were engaged more or less every day 
in skirmishes with detachments of the enemy, but with slight 
losses as compared with those we believed we had inflicted on 
our foe. The Federal cavalry, as estimated by General John- 
ston, nmnbered more than 15,000, greatly exceeding the com- 
bined cavalry of Wheeler and Jackson; and they were far better 
equipped. So we were kept exceedingly busy, watching their 
maneuvers and thwarting their plans. 


On June 5th, our regiment was on top of Lost Mountain, 
whence v/e had a grand view of Sherman's vast army encircling 
Johnston's and gradually outt^anking it on one wing or the other, 
thus forcing it to yield one position after another in order to 
maintain comnnmication with Atlanta. Some of our companies 
had quite a skirmish near the base of the mountain with a de- 

98 Mississippi Historical Scx:iety. 

tachmcnt of Federal infantry to-day, who were evidently search- 
ing for Johnston's left wing, that they ni'ght find some way to 
get in his rear. As we held the higher ground, we readily drove 
the Federals within their own lines. 


Early on the morning of June 14th, Generals Johnston, Har- 
dee, and Polk, rode to the top of Pine. Mountain to inspect the 
position of Bates' division. The cap/tain of a Federal battery 
six hundred yards in front observed the distinguished group and 
opened fire upon them. The third shot struck General Polk and 
passed through his chest from left to right, killing him instantly. 
This sudden death of the eminent Christian and fearless soldier, 
who had distinguished himself in every battle fought by the 
army of Tennessee, produced the deepest sorrow among all the 
troops, and more especially in his own corps, to which we prac- 
tically belonged. General Polk had been a classmate of Presi- 
dent Davis at West Point and they were devoted personal 
friends. Had General Polk lived a few v/eeks longer, he might 
have prevailed upon President Davis not to remove Johnston 
from the command of this army, and thus the fall of the Con- 
federacy might have been indefinitely postponed. 


In the last days of June, General Armstrong was ordered to 
select a detachment from his brigade, consisting of twenty-five 
men from each company, and cut the railroad between Etow^ah 
and Alatoona. Lieutenant-Colonel Montgomery was in com- 
mand of the men from our regiment, who had been selected be- 
cause our horses were in the best condition. We took with us 
five days' cooked rations. The strictest secrecy was observed lest 
any inkling of the expedition or its purpose might reach the 
enemy; for it was a matter of great importance that we should 
get into the rear of Sherman's army without being discovered. 
Moving w^est for some miles and then turning north, we eluded 
the hostile outposts and got too far ahead of them to be over- 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 99 

taken, if we should be discovered and pursued, before we could 
strike the railroad. Whether we could ever get back was alto- 
gether another question, which we would have time enough to 
consider when the emergency came. We passed directly across 
our old battlefield at New Hope Church, and to our astonishment 
every tree w^as dead, evidently having been killed by the count- 
less scores of bullets from the rifles of Federals and Confeder- 
ates, striking the trees from near the ground to ten and twenty 
feet above. Many trees had been entirely cut down by minie 
balls and cannon shot, even trees more, than three feet in circum- 
ference. Passing on rapidly, we reached the railroad somewhat 
north of Alatoona, dispersed a force of cavalry and infantry, 
and captured more than forty prisoners, without incurring any 
loss whatever. Having fewer than 900 men and no artillery, 
Armstrong found Alatoona too strongly garrisoned and forti- 
fied to be successfully assailed. He, therefore, destroyed the 
railroad so far as possible, and with his prisoners moved west 
ten miles and bivouacked for the night. We found abundant 
forage for the horses in the wdieatfields. 

Next morning, Armstrong lingered here, hoping he might find 
an opportunity to capture a wagon train or a cavalry detach- 
ment ; but none came in sight during the day. Late in the 
afternoon, after giving Montgomery orders to remain here 
twenty-four hours longer, Armstrong with the detachments from 
his other regiments and with the prisoners set out towards Lost 
Mountain, going first west and then south, somewhat in the same 
way he had come. Montgomery, apprehensive that he might be 
discovered, concealed his troops as much as possible in a thicket, 
passed the night quietly with pickets out on all roads; but spent 
the next day more or less in dread of encountering a superior 
force, supposing, of course, that cavalry would be sent in pur- 
suit of us. However, the appointed hour came, and just before 
night we were all exceedingly glad to start on our return to Lost 
Mountain. We moved off rapidly, in order to put ten miles or 
n^iore between us and possible pursuers. We spent the latter 
port:on of the night in thick woods, but daylight found us again 
»u the saddle, going rapidly and diverging but little from the 

100 Mississippi Historical Society. 

route we had come. At noon we halted in a deep valley to feed 
and rest our horses. It was raining hard, but that made no dif- 
ference, for we had long since grown accustomed to getting wet, 
as it had rained on us during the last forty-five days, day or 
night without exception. We reached camp just before rught, 
fed our horses, and drew rations for ourselves. Horses and men 
then enjoyed a night of solid and undisturbed repose, 



Next morning we learned that Sherman was still extending 
his right wing, and by the 2d of July General Johnston reported 
that Sherman's right was nearer Atlanta than our left, thus 
threatening the railroad bridge and Turner's ferry. But on July 
1st a division of Georgia State troops had come to support Jack- 
son's cavalry, which opposed the Federal advance on our extreme 
left. On July 4:th, General Smith withdrew his Georgians within 
their intrenchments and thus necessitated our yielding some 
ground. We had been constantly engaged since the 1st of July, 
incurring some losses, as we fought outside the entrenchments. 
After crossing the Chattahoochee on July 5th, we were kept busy 
guarding the river for twenty miles below Atlanta. General 
Johnston's Narrative says : "On July 14th, a division of 
of Federal cavalry crossed the river by ]Moore's bridge near 
Newnan, but was driven back by Armstrong's brigade, which 
had been sent by General Jackson to meet it". Newnan is forty 
miles southwest from Atlanta on the railroad leading to West 
Point, Ga. The enemy's cavalry intended to cut this important 
artery of communication with one of our sources of supply. But 
we made a forced march and intercepted the Federals before 
they reached the railroad, and with but one brigade we drove 
back their division, with considerable loss to them and little to 
us. We then destroyed Moore's bridge and awaited orders. 

The morning of July 19th dawned. O fateful day! and never 
to be forgotten! Just as we began moving out in obedience to 
orders to intercept this same cavalry division, Colonel Pinson 
informed us of Johnston's removal from the command of the 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 101 

Anuy of Tennessee and the substitution of Hood in his place. 
Wc were greatly surprised and deeply grieved. We could 
scarcely believe it possible. We marched rapidly to head off the 
Federals who were on a raid to West Point, and we rode hard 
all day and all night, and the melancholy gloom that overshad- 
owed officers and men can never be told. We believed that the 
hopes of the Confederacy rested largely on Johnston, for we 
knew well with what alacrity he had always been obeyed, the 
absolute confidence the arm}' had reposed in him, the matchless 
skill with which he had thus far outwitted Sherman, and the 
great losses he had inflicted on the Federals at comparatively 
small cost to the Confederates ; and we felt sure that Johnston 
would have administered a crushing blow when Sherman's army 
was divided in crossing Peach Tree Creek. Ii was the universal 
conviction of the army that Joseph E. Johnston was one of our 
greatest commanders, ranking with Albert Sidney Johnston and 
Robert E. Lee, and that his removal was equal to the loss of one 
half of the army. Even to this day, the theme is too sad to 
dwell upon, and I turn from it and restmie the thread of my 


Our all day and all night ride ended at La Grange. The en- 
emy had turned back without reaching \\''est Point, so soon as 
he learned that we were in position to cut oil his retreat, in case 
he advanced further. After a few days, we were ordered back 
to Atlanta and arrived there on July 24th, after the memorable 
battle of the 22d. I will not say what impression Hood made on 
us and on the army ; but he was in authority and we must obey 
without question. Colonel Pinson reported to Hood in person. 
and our regiment was ordered to pass through Atlanta and go 
into camp on the battlefield of July 22d. The scene was horrible ; 
decomposing horses were lying scattered in all directions ; the 
dead of both armies had been buried in shallow graves, barely 
covered with earth ; legs, arms, and heads might be seen pro- 
truding; and the green flies were so multitudinous, that it was 
'\\'ell-nigh impossible to prepare food or to eat it. But the posi- 

102 Mississippi Historical Society. 

tion was important and must be held. The hostile inf'antry had 
been withdrawn from our immediate front in order to continue 
the extension of their right wing. We had, however, minor en- 
gagements with bodies of cavalry and easily repelled their at- 
tacks. We fought with them for the corn in a field lying between 
us and them, and we got our full share of the corn. We were 
here because temporarily all af Wheeler's cavalry were employed 
elsewhere. Early on the 28th, however, we were relieved from 
this disagreeable place and ordered to join our brigade on the 
Lick Skillet road northwest of Atlanta on the extreme left of 
our army. 


Our regiment was sent to relieve a Georgia regiment at the 
edge of a skirt of woods, whicli bordered an open field two hun- 
dred yards wide along our front. As our pickets took intervals 
and began to cross this field, they were suddenly fired upon, and 
the woods beyond the field were full of ''blue-coats" advancing 
in line of battle. We could not yield without resistance, for we 
must give warning to the brigade. A brief, sharp skirmish re- 
sulted, in which J. J. Hunter, of Company F, was sure he killed 
one Federal ; and it was clear that we were facing not less than 
a brigade and possibly a division. But we retired slowly through 
the woods, firing from every stump and tree and prostrate log 
into the ranks of the enemy. As we were steady veterans, good 
shots, with good gims, we must have done considerable execu- 
tion. The caution displayed in their advance attested somewhat 
the accuracy of our marksmanship. We halted on the crest of 
the riext hill, protecting ourselves more or less behind houses and 
fences. As the enemy came on in close array, they sufiFered 
heavily, while our loss was comparatively light. Seeing, how- 
ever, that we could not stop their persistent advance. Colonel 
Pinson ordered us to withdraw to the next hill and mount our 
horses. But as we gained the summit of the hill, we heard a 
noise in the woods back of our horses and were overjoyed to 
meet a brigade from S. D. Lee's corps on the double quick 
hastening to our support. It goes without saying, the advance 
of the Federals was instantly checked. Thus was brought on 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 103 

the battle of the 28th of July, and this was our part in it. Both 
sides brought up reinforcements, each extending its battle-line 
eastward. Lee's whole corps and A. P. Stewart's came into ac- 
tion, and the battle raged till night, according to Hood without 
material advantage to either belligerent. Each failed to dislodge 
the other. Losses were heavy, perhaps not less than from 4,000 
to 5,000 to either the Federals or the Confederates. 

Meanwhile, Jackson with his two other brigades and Wheeler's 
cavalry under Wheeler and Iverson had been pursuing the Fed- 
eral com.mands of Stoneman and iMcCook. On the 29th, a tele- 
gram from Wheeler stated: ''We have just completed the kill- 
ing, capturing, and breaking up of the entire raiding party under 
General McCook, capturing 950 unwounded prisoners, two pieces 
of artillery, and 1200 horses and equipments." On the same 
day, a dispatch from Iverson said: ''General Stoneman, after 
being routed yesterday, surrendered 500 of his men; the rest are 
scattered and fleeing towards Eatonton; and many have already 
been killed and captured." Armstrong's brigade regretted not 
being permitted to participate in these brilliant achievenients, 
though just as profitably employed in guarding the left flank of 
Hood's army. 


After the battle of the 2Sth, Atlanta was regularly besieged 
and this lasted a month. Vv'hceler was sent north to interrupt 
Sherman's communications. Sherman, taking advantage of 
Wheeler's absence, made yet another attempt to cut the iMacon 
railroad by sending for this purpose a strong detachment of cav- 
alry under General Kilpatrick, who passed rapidly around our 
left. General Jackson with two brigades pursued, and Pinson's 
regiment and most of Armstrong's brigade followed shortly af- 
terwards. Kilpatrick had cro-sed the railroad at Jonesborough, 
burned the depot, and torn up several miles of track, before he 
was overtaken by Jackson. General Ross had thrown his brigade 
across Kilpatrick's path while our brigade under Armstrong was 
pressing him in the rear. As the Texans were between Kilpat- 
rick and safety by flight, he withdrew the force fighting us, 
formed his troops into column by companies and charged 



104 Mississippi Historical Society. 

through Ross' tliin Hue that had been stretched out to cover Kil- 
patrick's front. The heroic Texans, firing first in the faces of 
the advancing Federals and then at their backs after they had 
passed on, inflicted heavy losses on them. Likewise, the men of 
King's battery, right in the road of Kilpatrick's charging column, 
fired into it one or two rounds as it came on ; then, dodging un- 
der their guns till the last company of Kilpatrick's column had 
passed, they rose, wheeled their guns around, and again fired 
into the retreating column. Afterwards, Armstrong followed 
rapidly on the heels of Kilpatrick and brought him to bay. Pin- 
son was ordered to dismount his regiment and begin the attack. 
This he did promptly and furiously. We routed Kilpatrick's 
rear-guard and drove it pell-mell a mile or more, though for 
awhile they put up a stout resistance. Here, our loss was about 
fifty, killed and wounded, and we killed, wounded, and cap- 
tured many more than fifty. At length, on a high ridge the 
Federals made another stand, but before we could assail them, 
or Armstrong could bring up the regiments already mounted, 
the Federals remounted and fled precipitately. 

The Federal dead and wounded were left on the field and 
many unwounded were also captured. Kilpatrick's sole aim now 
was to escape. This he did. I regret I cannot give the names 
of our killed and wounded, other than of two of the bravest of 
the Noxubee Squadron, Tommy Staunton and Hall Haynes, both 
members of Company F. In charging through the Texans in 
line of battle, the Federals had little time or thought for any- 
thing else than flight ; but as they reached the Texan horsehold- 
ers and horses, they stampeded these horses and carried off as 
prisoners a few of the horse-holders, all of whom, however, suc- 
ceeded in getting away and coming back to Ross during the 
night. Most of Kilpatrick's artillery horses and pack-mules were 
killed, and his cannon and rich supplies of food and forage were 
abandoned. As night had fallen, and further pursuit was use- 
less, Colonel Pinson ordered us back into camp. That night, 
every man of us had genu'nc coffee in abundance and all the 
good edibles heart could wish; and our horses had corn, oats, 
and hay, — all they could devour. 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 105 


Next day, we received orders to hasten back to the left of 
Hood's army, for Sherman had begun his flank movement in 
earnest, because, as he says in his book, his cavalry either could 
not or would not disable a railroad ; and, therefore, he had re- 
solved to throw his infantry on the railroad in rear of Hood. 
As Sherman extended his left, Armstrong was always found in 
his front to obstruct his advance. One day we held a rocky ridge 
facing west with an open view for at least a mile across a culti- 
vated field; and. along a road on the opposite ridge we watched 
for a long while thousands and thousands of infantry march 
South. ' We had no artillery and the range was too great for 
effective use of our carbines. The Federals, however, not relish- 
ing our constant firing into their moving column, deployed not 
less than a brigade and slow^ly drove back the First Mississippi. 
Late in the day, the head of Sherman's column crossed the rail- 
road near Fairburn ; during the day we had captured a few pris- 
oners from three different corps, indicating that at least three- 
fourths of Sherman's army were engaged in this movement. 

We had kept General Hood fully advised of the progress of 
events, and at last he was convinced, as we had been for many 
days, that Sherman was moving with his whole army, that his 
purpose was to destroy the Macon railroad, and that the fate of 
Atlanta depended on the possibility of defeating Sherman. Our 
infantry and artillery then in the neighborhood of Atlanta had 
been reduced to about 35,000 men. Wheeler with 4,500 
men was doing valuable service in the region around Chatta- 
nooga, but service useless in the present emergency. Jackson 
with two of his brigades was busy elsewhere, and only Arm- 
strong's brigade of about 1,500 men was in's immedi- 
ate front. After crossing the West Point railroad, Sherman's 
progress was slow. The country was open and Armstrong 
availed himself of every desirable position at which he could of- 
fer even temporary resistance and retard somewhat the march 
of Sherman's immense column. On the 30th of August, we 
crossed the Flint River not many miles from Joncsboro, w^hither 

106 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Hood had dispatched the brigades of Lewis and Reynolds to re- 
inforce Armstrong. We halted on the south bank of the Hint 
and for awhile offered stout resistance. But the enemy crossed 
above and below us about 6 o'clock in the afternoon, and this 
compelled us to withdraw. 

Our next stand was on a ridge at right angles to the road. 
We had a broad open field in front and woods behind us. We 
piled up rails as a fortification and sent our horses to the rear 
under the hill. First a heavy line of skirmishers advanced against 
us. Waiting till they were well within range, we fired a volley 
and they- retreated rapidly over the hill, leaving their dead and 
v/ounded behind them. But soon appeared two solid lines of 
infanlry, and at least one battery of artillery opened fire upon 
us. The first shots went wild above our heads; but,, soon get- 
ting the range, they fired with greater precision of aim, causing 
our rails to fly in all directions, and rendering our position more 
dangerous than in the open. I distinctly remember that one 
member of our Noxubee Cavalry, a nev/ recruit and a noted 
street ''bully" at home that would fight even a Vv'ild-cat in a 
fisticuff encounter, at this moment tlirew down his gun, turned 
his back to the foe, and fled as fast as his legs could carry him. 
W^e never saw him again. I do not care to reproduce his name, as 
some respectable descendant might grieve over his cowardice. 
We were ordered to get in front of our rail-piles ; but this position 
was tenable only a short time, since the Federal line extended far 
beyond ours on each flank and enabled them to enfilade us. 


When we reached Jonesboro, we found Lewis' brigade in the 
trenches. We dismounted and joined them. Reynolds' brigade 
had not yet come. Early the next morning, the enemy massed 
heavy forces, used long-range artillery, and drove us out. Har- 
dee's corps coming a little too late assaulted the works of the en- 
emy in vain, losing about 1,400 in killed and wounded. Lee's 
corps arrived still later. Had these two corps been twelve hours 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 107 

earlier, the result at Jonesboro would have been different. Hood 
then assembled his whole army at Lovejoy and Sherman took pos- 
session of Atlanta. 


After the removal of the Federal prisoners from x\nderson- 
ville, the destruction of railroads radiating from Atlanta, the 
strengthening of the fortifications of Macon, Augusta, and Co- 
lumbus, the recall of Wheeler's cavalry from Tennessee, and the 
transfer of all army supplies to the West Point railroad, Hood on 
the 18th of September began to extend his left towards the Chat- 
tahoochee, which his advance reached on the 19th. He formed 
his line of battle on the 20th, his right east of the railroad and his 
left resting near the river, with headquarters at Palmetto. On 
the 28th, Jackson's cavalry advanced, a detachment being sent 
to operate against the railroad between Marietta and the Chat- 
tahoochee. The First Mississippi captured a long and well loaded 
train of cars with its guard complete. Kilpatrick's cavalry was 
north of the Chattahoochee and Girard's had gone in the direction 
of Rome. 


At Alatoona, large supplies were stored, guarded by a brigade 
of infantry well entrenched, which General French's division had 
been ordered to capture. A squadron from Pinson's First Missis- 
sippi under Capt. Tobe Taylor accompanied French and served 
as eyes and ears for him. We tore up considerable stretches of 
the railroad ; but when Sherman's army on its march north came 
too close and threatened to cut off" our communication with Hood, 
General French, having captured only a portion of the Federal 
works and destroyed them, despite his several desperate assaults, 
retreated westward and rejoined Hood. 


On October 10th, our cavalry was dispatched to hold in check 
the Federals at Rome; and on the 11th Hood's army marched 
towards Resaca and Dalton, and on the 13th captured the latter 

108 Mississippi Historical Society. 

place with more than 1,000 prisoners. Wheeler's cavalry was re- 
sisting and retarding Sherman's march north. Hood had planned 
to give battle, but his corps-commanders advised him that it 
would be unwise with less than 35,000 effectives to risk an en- 
gagement with 65,000 veterans, flushed with recent victory. 
Hood next conceived the idea of moving into Tennessee. Beaure- 
gard, commanding the Department, assented but directed Hood 
to leave Wheeler's cavalry to protect Georgia from state-wide 
depredation by Sherman's army. Then, as Sherman turned 
south, Hood moved north and on Nov. 13th established head- 
quarters at Florence. 


A few days previously, Captain King of the Noxubee Cavalry, 
who had long entertained a presentiment that he would be killed, 
while riding at the head of his company and leading the advance 
of Armstrong's brigade, was struck centrally in the forehead by a 
minie-ball and instantly killed, to the utter amazement of all. No 
one was apprehensive of danger, not an enemy was in sight, 
and no firing was heard in any direction. We were ascending a 
hill but could not yet see over it. Evidently, the ball had been 
fired by a Federal sharpshooter from a long-range gun and was 
on its descending trajectory when it struck Captain King. 
King's presentiment like that of Bealle previously mentioned in 
this narrative w^as thus realized. His death was deeply lamented, 
for he was universally popular. First Lieutenant T. J. Deupree 
from this time till the end of the war commanded the Noxubee 
Cavalry. After mounting the hill and advancing more than a 
mile, we discovered the enemy's line, and a brief but sharp skir- 
mish followed, in which among the first to fall was Lieutenant 
Henley of the Noxubee Troopers. Thus in less than an hour our 
Squadron lost two of the best officers we ever had. 


On Nov. 18th, General N. B. Forrest, in obedience to orders 
from General Beauregard, reported to General Hood. Then 
Jackson's division, that is, the brigades of Ross and Armstrong,. 

Tlie Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 109 

-were added to Forrest's command. Now in command of all the 
-cavalry of Hood's army, numbering about 5,000 eiTectives, For- 
rest moved out from Florence in advance of the infantry and 
went into camp on Shoal Creek. Thence, Bu ford's and Jackson's 
divisions were ordered to advance northward over the mihtary 
road. Next day, Nov. 19th, a foraging detachment from Bu- 
ford's division, while gathering corn, came suddenly into con- 
tact with a Federal brigade of cavalry under Colonel Datus Coon 
•of Hatch's division, which charged the Kentuckians so vigorously 
and unexpectedly, that they fled and abandoned two wagons be- 
longing to Buford's headquarters. Fortunately, Armstrong's 
brigade was also gathering corn from a field not far away. Up- 
on hearing the firing, Armstrong promptly led his Mississippians 
-at a gallop to the scene and fell furiously on the right and rear 
of the Federals ; while Buford's men, quickly rallying after re- 
covering from their surprise, again faced their pursuers. The 
Federals were thus caught between the Mississippians and the 
Kentuckians and were roughly handled. They were routed and 
driven precipitately and in great disorder from the field, leaving 
many prisoners and the recaptured wagons in our hands. 


Meanwhile, Forrest with his remaining division under Chal- 
mers had set out on his march towards Nashville, going through 
Kelly's Forge, and reaching Henryville on the 23d. On the 22d, 
Buford and Jackson, coming into Lawrenceburg, again encoun- 
tered a portion of Wilson's cavalry, which after sHght resistance 
retreated towards Pulaski. That our cavalry made itself severely 
felt is gracefully acknowledged by Colonel Henry Stone, U. S. 
A., on the staff of General George H. Thomas, who says in his 
report: "The Confederate army began its northward niarch from 
Florence Nov. 19th, in weather of great severity. It rained and 
snowed and hailed and froze. Forrest had come up with 6,000 
cavalry and led the advance with indomitable energy^ Hatch and 
Cox made such resistance as they could ; but on the 22d the head 
of Hood's column was at Lawrenceburg, sixteen miles west of 



110 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Pulaski". As the scope of my narrative is dcsi^^aivd to give Id 
the main only the operations in which the Noxubee Squadron of 
the First Mississippi took part, I regretfully forbear to recount 
the brilliant action of Rucker's brigade, Chalmer's divi^ion, under 
Forrest's own eye at Henryville. 


Jackson and Buford continued the pursuit towards Pulaski on 
separate roads, and at night on the 23d Jackson learned that the 
enemy were rapidly evacuating this portion of Tennessee. Next 
day, therefore, he moved more directly north and at Campbells- 
ville found in his front more than a division of cavalry under 
Hatch. Promptly making his dispositions to attack, Jackson 
threw forw^ard a part of Ross's brigade, while Armstrong's bri- 
gade made a wade detour and fell with fury upon Hatch's right 
and rear, and at the same time Young's battery from a favorable 
ridge opened with telling effect. In a few moments, too, Bu- 
ford's guns were heard a mile or more away. He had also come 
up against the enemy on his line of pursuit. Thus, Kentuckians, 
Mississippians, and Texans were all thrown with a common aim | 

against Hatch, Our fierce attack w^as, indeed, irresistible, and 
the enemy was speedily routed. Buford on his part of the field I 

charged and captured more than 100 unwounded prisoners ; and i 

Jackson's brigades, pressing their advantage, captured still : 

more, with horses and equipments, four stands of colors, and 1 

sixty-five fat beeves. 


Next day, Buford and Jackson joined Forrest near Colum- 
bia. This was Nov. 24th. Columbia was held by the Fourth and 
Twenty-third corps under General Schofield and by Wilson's 
cavalry, with heavy lines of skirmishers in rifle-pits encircling the 
town. General Forrest immediately invested the place and held 
his position till the 2Tth, when Hood's infantry arrived and the 
Federalsbegan the evacuation of Columbiaby crossing to the north 
side of Duck River. On the 28th, the main portion of our cavalry 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. Ill 

succeeded in effecting a crossing. Forrest's celerity and boldness 
in leading Hood's invasion was now giving to General Thomas 
at Nashville grave concern for the safety of Schofield's army. 
After crossing Duck River we promptly drove back all hostile 
ca;valry on the roads leading to Spring Hill and Franklin. De- 
fore midnight, Forrest with Chalmers' division was eight miles 
beyond Columbia on the Spring Hill road, greatly disappointed 
to learn that Buford w^as slow to cross Duck River by reason of 
the stubborn resistance he had met and that he could not join 
him earlier than 8 o'clock on the morning of the 29th. Jack- 
son's division had been directed to move on tlie Lcwisburg pike 
towards Franklin. Erelong Armstrong's brigade, being in the 
lead, sent back word to Forrest that the enemy had been found 
in force and waited for instructions. Forrest ordered Armstrong 
to hold the enemy and not press them too closely till he could witii 
Chalmers' division gain their flank and rear. Forrest then moved 
rapidly towards Spring Hill with Chalmers' division and within 
two miles of the village encountered Union pickets. By this time 
Buford had come up and in conjunction with Chalmers advanced 
against the enemy, who being well fortified held their position he- 
roically. Strong barricades had been erected and Coon's brigade 
of Hatch's division had reinforced the Federals. By his usual 
flanking process, however, Forrest at length dislodged them; 
and then we were ordered to press them with vigor, which Arm- 
strong was always glad to do . About this time, Colonel Wilson 
of the NINETEENTH Tennessee was thrice wounded while 
leading his mounted regiment in a desperate charge across an 
open field ; but he refused to leave his regiment. The fight speed- 
ily became general, and word came from Hood to hold the posi- 
tion at all hazards, and that the head of the infantry column was 
only two miles away. Chalmers' division moved upon the en- 
emy's right. A charge was ordered. Thus the enemy, driven 
from his rifle-pits, fled towards Spring Hill. Jackson's division 
was ordered to ride at a gallop to Thompson's Station, to hold it, 
and thus cut off Schofield's retreat. In obedience to this order, 
we reached the railroad by. 11 o'clock that night, and found the 
advance of Stanley's division of Schofield's army passing north. 


112 Mississippi Historical Society. 

We assailed them promptly, took possession of the road and held 
it firmly, despite their fierce attacks, till daylight. But the odds 
against us grew constantly as Schohcld's army retreating from 
Columbia swelled the number of our assailants, till with over- 
whelming forces they drove us from their front. All this time, 
while we were doing our utmost to hold the pike, Hood with 
Cheatham's corps was within easy striking distance; and, if he 
had thrown Cheatham's veterans boldly and with vigor upon the 
Federals, they would have inevitably been routed and captured. 
This would have assured the complete success of Hood's cam- 
paign into Tennessee. 

But failure to make the most of this great opportunity gave 
rise to a bitter controversy between Hood and Cheatham; and 
in this connection, I am sure, my readers will be glad to see the 
following letter from Governor Isham G. Harris : 

"Memphis, Tenn., May 20ih, 1877. 
^'Governor James D. Porter, 
Nashville Tennessee. 
My dear Sir: — 

General Hood on the march to Franklin spoke to me in the 
presence of Major Mason of the failure of General Cheatham 
to make the night attack at Spring Hill, and censured him in 
severe terms for disobedience of orders. Soon after this, being 
alone with Major Mason, the latter remarked to me that General 
Cheatham was not to blame about the matter, that he did not send 
him the order. I asked him if be had communicated that fact to 
General Hood. He answered that he had not. I replied that it 
was due General Cheatham that this explanation should be made. 
Thereupon, Major Mason joined General Hood and gave him the 
information. After\vards, General Hood said to me that he had 
done injustice to General Cheadiam, and requested me so to in- 
form him, that he held him blameless for the failure at Spring 
Hill ; and on the day following the battle of Franklin I was in- 
formed by General Hood that he had addressed a note to General 
Cheatham saying that he did not censure him with the failure to 

''Very respectfully, 
(signed) Isham G. Harris." 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 113 


On the next day, the 30th, P'orrest with his entire force pressed 
the enemy closely, until they reached Winstead's Hill, where 
they were strongly posted and offered stouter resistance. When 
Hood's infantry came up, the Federals withdrew within the for- 
tifications of Franklin. Hood then directed Forrest to take 
charge of the cavalry during the impending battle ; and, if the 
assault was successful, to capture all who attempted to escape. I 
shall not undertake to describe this bloody battle. Though our 
army failed to carry all the breastworks, they made lodgments in 
many places and held on firmly till the enemy late at night with- 
drew and fled to Nashville. 

Wilson's cross-roads and block-houses. 

Crossing the Harpeth and moving along the Wilson pike, For- 
rest struck the enemy in force at Wilson's Cross-roads. Mor- 
ton's battery was ordered to the front and opened fire. Buford's 
division charged, driving the enemy and capturing m.any pris- 
oners. Without further resistance, some of our cavalry pursued 
the fugitives several miles towards Nashville, x^s the infantry 
had come up, next morning the cavalry began to operate against 
block-houses and detached garrisons, and to obstruct navigation 
on the Cumberland River. Buford's division captured several im- 
portant stockades on the 3d and 4th of December. On the oth, 
Jackson's division captured a redoubt 'near LaVergne with its 
garrison, two pieces of artillery, many wagons, and a great quan- 
tity of munitions and supplies of food and forage. 


When Bates' division had come to cooperate with Forrest 
against Milroy's forces at jMurfreesborough, the cavalry were 
ordered to picket the pikes leading from Murfreesborough to 
Nashville and Lebanon, while the division of Qialmers was op- 
erating successfully along the Cumberland. On the 6th, Forrest 
made a reconnaisance in force of the enemy's works at Murfrees- 

;■( ) 

114 Mississippi Historical Society. 

borough by advancing in line of battle Bates' division, two ad- 
ditional brigades of infantry under Sears and Palmer, and Jack- 
son's cavalry. Skirmishing continued for some hours, and the 
Federals withdrew into the intrenchments. Forrest ordered the 
infantry to remain in line, while with Pinson's regiment he rode 
forward to make a careful inspection of the fortress. This he did 
very leisurely, as it seemed to us who escorted him around, ex- 
posed to the fire of sharp-shooters more or less all the time. He 
satisfied himself that the position was too strong to justify direct 
assault, but hoped to hold Milroy there till the battle of Nashville 
was fought. 

On the morning of the Tth, however, Milroy's forces moved 
out of Murfreesborough and advanced with great gallantry, halt- 
ing now and then to discharge a volley at our infantry in line of 
battle. When they had come within three-hundred yards of Bates' 
division, those veterans who had faced far greater odds and held 
their ground unflinchingly on many a battlefield, became panic- 
stricken and from some inexplicable cause broke into wild dis- 
order. Forrest, in his report says: ''The enemy moved boldly 
forward, driving in my pickets, w^hen the infantry with the ex- 
ception of Smith's brigade, from some cause I cannot explain, 
made a shameful retreat, losing two pieces of artillery. I seized 
the colors of the retreating troops and endeavored to rally them, 
but they would not be moved by any entreaty or appeal to their 
patriotism. Major General Bate did the same thing, but w^as as 
unsuccessful as I. I hurriedly sent Major Strange of my Staff to 
Brigadier General Armstrong and to Brigadier-General Ross 
of Jackson's division, with orders to say to them that everything 
depended on the cavalry. They proved themselves equal to the 
emergency by charging on the enemy, thereby checking his fur- 
ther advance". 

As stated in Wyeth's Life of Forrest, Mr. W. A. Galloway of 
Atlanta, Ga., at that time an artillerist in Young's battery, says: 
"I was an eye-witness to an interesting incident in this battle of 
Murfreesboro. During the stampede, Forrest rode among the 
infantry, ordering the men to rally and doing all in his power 
to stop their retreat. As he rode up and down the line, shouting 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 115 

'Rally, men, for God's sake, rally !' the panic-stricken soldiers 
paid no attention to him. Rushing to a color-bearer who was 
running for dear life, Forrest ordered him to halt. Failing to 
have his command obeyed, he drew his pistol and shot the re- 
treating soldier down. Forrest dismounted, seized the colors, 
remounted, and rode in front of the soldiers, waved the colors, 
and finally succeeded in rallying them to their duty." 

The charge made by Armstrong and Ross had checked the 
Federals, and they retired immediately within their works. In 
camp that night, the men of our company indulged in chess, 
checkers, cards, and other amusements, necessar}.- to relieve the 
anxieties of the day. As is well known, chess is emphatically a 
game of war ; and our company contained more than a dozen 
devotees of Caissa. Among them was our first Captain, H. W. 
Foote; then, T. J. Deupree, who as First Lieutenant had been in 
command of the company since the death of Captain King near 
Florence, was an excellent player ; also, Lieutenant S. B. Day, 
James Rives, Alec McCaskill, Frank Adams, and J. G. Deupree 
were more or less expert amateurs. There were others, whose 
names I cannot now recall. By a seeming coincidence. Lieuten- 
ant Deupree that night was ordered to appear before a board of 
officers, presided over by Captain Porter of Memphis, for exam- 
ination with a view to his promotion. The Lieutenant rode sev- 
eral miles on the pike towards Nashville to face this board. On 
arrival at headquarters, he was at once challenged to a game of 
Chess by Captain Porter, who said: "Beat me and I shall add 
another bar to your collar. Sir." The reader w^ill bear in mind 
that a First-Lieutenant wore two bars and a Captain three. 
There was no dodging. Porter opened the game with "Pawn 
to Queen 4", and proceeded speedily and skillfully to marshal his 
forces. The Lieutenant replied with "P to King 3", and having 
much at stake concentrated his mind on the game and likewise 
proceeded to develop his forces to the best advantage. The game 
was long and hotly contested. At length, by a judicious sacri- 
fice of a rook, the Lieutenant overreached the Captain and ef- 
fected mate in a style that would have done credit to a Morphy or 
a Capablanca. There was no need of further examination. 

116 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Courage and coolness iu action had been tested in actual battle 
many times, and intellectual power was proved in this g"ame of 
war. Captain Porter and his board unanimously recommended 
Deupree's promotion, and thus the Lieutenant became Captain. 
In this connection, it may be added that he was a favorite of 
Colonel Pinson's, who when in command of the brigade always 
appointed T. J. Deupree to a staff position. 

hood's rear-guard. 

While Buford picketed the Cumberland towards the Hermitage 
and some infantry destroyed the railroad from LaVergne to 
Murfreesboro, Jackson's cavalry operated south of Murfrees- 
boro and by a brilliant dash captured a train of nineteen cars and 
the Sixty-first Illinois Infantry. The train loaded heavily with 
military supplies was 'burned and the prisoners were sent to the 
rear. Receiving a message from Hood that a general engage- 
ment was in progress in front of Nashville wath instructions to 
hold his command in readiness to participate, Forrest on the 18th 
withdrew to Wilkinson's Cross-Roads. Plere he received tidings 
of Hood's disastrous defeat. He was ordered to fall back 
towards Duck River, concentrate the cavalry, and be prepared to 
fall in the rear of our retreating army. Qialmers' division, joined 
by Buford's at Franklin, in conjunction with S. D. Lee's corps, 
now in the rear, fought heroically during the 17th and ISth to 
hold back the pursuing enemy, who made every possible effort to 
rout the retreating column. Though he had been seriously 
wounded on the ITth, Lee would not relinquish his command till 
the safety of his corps was assured. He was then succeeded by 
Major-General Stephenson. After reaching Duck River, where 
he had purposed to spend the winter, Hood decided that the heavy 
losses incurred at Franklin and Nashville had so reduced his 
strength that he must cross the Tennessee as soon as possible. 
Forrest agreed to protect the rear and to check the relentless pur- 
suit made by Wilson's cavalry and Thomas' infantry, if in addi- 
tion to his cavalry, now not more than 3,000 effectives, he could 
have under his orders -1,000 select infantry under General E. C. 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 117 

Walthall. Just here, I shall quote from the report of General 
Thomas the following- pertinent paragraph : 

''Forrest with his cavalry and such other detachments, as had 
been sent off from his main army, joined Hood at Columbia. He 
had formed a powerful rear-guard, numbering- about 4,000 infan- 
try and all his available cavalry. With the exception of this rear- 
guard, his army had become a disheartened and disorganized 
rabble of half-armed and bare-footed men, who sought every op- 
portunity to fall out by the wayside and desert their cause, so as 
to put an end to their sufferings. The rear-guard, hozvever, zvas 
undaunted and -firm and did its work bravely to the eiid." 

In this connection, I also quote the following from W^yeth's 
Life of Forrest: "Of the infantry which volunteered its service to 
cover the Confederate retreat, fully three hundred were without 
sho^s, and their feet were so badly cut by the ice and the rocks 
that they could with difficulty hobble along on foot. The brave 
fellows, however, had not lost heart, but were willing to fight to 
the death, if needed. Tliey wrapped pieces of blanket around 
their raw and bleeding feet, tied them up w^ith thongs, and 
trudged painfully along, staining the snow and slush as they 
went, until Forrest ordered some wagons to be emptied of their 
contents in order to furnish transportation to these unconquerable 
men. Whenever it became necessary to fight off' the Union ad- 
vance, they left' their wagons, took their places in line, and did 
effective service. Wlien the uncomplaining sacrifices which these 
heroic patriots made becomes fully known, historians and poets 
will transmit to posterity the thrilling story of the immortal rear- 
guard -of Hood's army under Forrest and Walthall." 


At Richland Creek south of Columbia, Forrest made a stand. 
Six pieces of artillery were favorably placed on the main pike, 
supported by the cavalry. What impression w'as made on Gen- 
eral Wilson, after coming up and viewing the position, may be 
gathered from the following extract from his report: "The pur- 
suit was resumed on the 24th. Hood's reorganized rear-g^ard 

118 Mississippi Historical Society. 

under the redoubtable Forri^st >vas soon encountered by the cav- 
alry advance-guard ; and Forrest was a leader not to be attacked 
by a handful of men, however bold. The few remaining- teams 
and the rabble of Hood's army had been hurried on towards the 
Tennessee, marching to Pulaski by turnpike and thence to Bain- 
bTidge by the dirt roads of the country. Hood's rear-guard had 
thus a clear road, and when hard pressed could fall back rapidly. 
The country to the right and the left of the pike was open and 
broken, heavily timbered and almost impassable, while the turn- 
pike itself, threading the valleys, depressions, and gorges, offered 
many advantageous positions for defense ; hence with a few men 
offering determined opposition, the pursuing force could be made 
to halt and develop a front almost anywhere, and its progress in 
consequence was at many times comparatively slow." 

Wilson would not attack but waited for Thomas' infantry to 
come to his aid, and then with his cavalry he began a flanking 
movement to gain our rear. Forrest withdrew in order to meet 
this maneuver, leaving Armstrong's and R.oss' brigades to make 
obstinate resistance against any attack that might be made upon 
them. This they did and retired only when about to be over- 


Forrest's next stand was at Anthony's Hill, seven miles south 
of Pujaski, forty-two miles from Bainbridge, v/hcre Hood's army 
was to cross the Temiessee. At this time, as General Thomas Jor- 
dan says in his ''Campaigns of General Forresf\ the enemy were 
coming on in vast numbers. General Wilson had already passed 
Pulaski with 10,000 cavalry, and Thomas had reached that point 
with a larger force of infantry ; and both were pressing forward 
in eager pursuit. To prevent the annihilation of Hood's army, a 
desperate effort must be made to delay the enemy as long as 
possible. Fortunately, the ground was favorable. The approach 
to Anthony's Hill for two miles was through a defile formed by 
two steep high ridges, which united at their common southern 
extremity to form Anthony's Hill, whose ascent was steep. Both 
these ridges and Anthony's Hill in which they united, were heav- 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 119 

ily wooded. In the language of General Jordan, "Morton's bat- 
tery was established on the immediate summit of the Hill so as 
to sweep the hollow below as well as the road running through it. 
Along the crest of the hill and around on the ridge were Feather- 
ston's and Palmer's brigades of Walthall's division, reinforced by 
400 of Ross' Texans and a like number of Armstrong's Mississip- 
pians, dismounted. The rest of Jackson's division were disposed 
as cavalry on either fiank, with Reynold's and Field's brigades of 
infantry held in reserve. The infantry had furiher strengthened 
their position by breastworks of rails and logs, and skirmishers 
were posted in line under cover on the hillside. At the same 
time, Chalmers was halted a mile and a half to the rightward, on 
the road along which he was moving, in order to guard that flank 
from being turned. So broken and deeply timbered was this re- 
gion that the concealment of the Confederates was complete. 
About 1 o'clock the Confederate cavalry withdrew slowly into the 
mouth of the glen and the Federal cavalry pursued closely. To 
the Federals the place began to look so dangerous that their com- 
mander thought it requisite to dismount several of his regiments 
before ascending the hill. These he pushed forward with a piece 
of artillery. The Confederates, meanwhile, had ridden rapidly 
through the hollow, up and over the hiil, as if they had been left 
unsupported, and the enemy was permitted to ascend within fifty 
paces of our skirmishers without hindrance. Then Morton broke 
the grim silence with cannister, while the skirmishers enveloped 
the enemy with a hot galling fire from front and flank, followed 
soon by a siill heavier fire from the main line of Confederate 
infantry. The enemy, thorouglily surprised and returning but a 
feeble and scattering fire, gave way to disorder, when the Con- 
federates sprang forward with a yell and charged down the hill 
upon them, rushing through the horses of the dismounted men 
and halting but once to deliver another volley. Thus the enemy 
were driven in great confusion out of the defile. Then Forrest 
recalled his men from their hot pursuit so as to avoid becoming 
entangled with the Federal infantry, which by this time was near 
at hand. Tlie enemy left behind 15S killed and wounded, 59 un- 

120 Mississippi Historical Society. 

wounded prisoners, 300 cavalry horses fully equipped, as many 
overcoats, one 12-pounder Napoleon, with its team of eight 
horses intact. The Conferedate loss did not exceed 15 killed and 
40 wounded." 

Among our wounded at Anthony's Hill was George W. Alford 
of the Deupree Mess of the Noxubee cavalry. No truer or braver 
man ever faced the foe in battle. As usual he was with the fore- 
most in pursuit of the fleeing Federals, when a bullet pierced his 
chest. So serious was his condition, he could not be transported 
rearward even in an ambulance. His young friend and m.ess- 
mate, T. S. Brooks, volunteered to remain and care for him, 
though knowing that this would result in his capture and impris- 
onment, after we retreated. Brooks was at this time only a lad 
under eighteen years of age, though a veteran by reason of two 
years of service with us. By tender, faithful, and affectionate 
nursing, Alford slowly and gradually began to recover. But long 
before he could be moved without pain, or serious risk to life, the 
Federals sent Alford and Brooks to a Northern prison, v/here 
they remained till the war ended. Afterwards, for many years, 
Alford was a useful citizen and christian in the Deerbrook neigh- 
borhood of Noxubee county ; and at this writing, Brooks is liv- 
ing with a married daughter on our Gulf coast, esteemed by all 
who know him as an honest man and a devout follower of the 
lowly Nazarene. 

Pertipent to the fight at Anthony's Hill, I quote the following 
from the report of Wilson to the commander of the Fourth Army 
Corps: "We are now four miles from Pulaski on the Lamb's 
Ferry road, and have met with a slight check. H you bring up 
your infantry, we may get some prisoners; and, I think, then I 
shall be able to drive Forrest off. Just before sundown on Christ- 
mas-Eve, Forrest in a fit of desperation made a stand on a heav- 
ily wooded ridge at the head of a ravine, and by a rapid and sav- 
age counter-thrust drove back Harrison's brigade, captured one 
gun, which he succeeded in carrying away as the sole trophy of 
his desperate attack." 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 121 


The day was now drawing to a close and heavy columns of Fed- 
eral cavalry by making wide detours had begun to menace seri- 
ously our flanks. All the advantages of this position had been 
exhausted ; and, after sending ahead all prisoners and captured 
munitions, Forrest retired in good order. The roads were 
wretched. Horses liad to be driven or ridden through slush and 
mud from two to three feet deep. Infantry marched, many of 
them barefooted, through ice-cold streams waist-deep, while rain 
and sleet beat upon them from above. However, by 1 o'clock 
that night we reached Sugar Creek, a clear stream with pebbly 
bottom. Here both men and horses were glad to halt and to have 
the mud and mire waslied from their feet and legs. Being now 
thoroughly wet, we built fires and rested till daylight. 

When the first streaks of dawn flushed the eastern sky, we 
strengthened our position by a lay-out of rails and logs, and then 
quietly awaited the approach of the enemy. A thick fog con- 
cealed our breastworks. As the Federals advanced, our pickets 
with little resistance fell back slowly, till they had drawn their 
pursuers within musket-range of the unseen Confederate line. 
Having then joined us, our pickets fired a volley into the unsus- 
pecting Federals and threw them into more or less confusion, 
and they began a rapid and disorderly retreat. A charge by Ross' 
cavalry^ and two infantry regiments completed the rout of the en- 
emy. Strong bodies of infantry and cavalry w^ere met marching 
rapidly to rally and reinforce the fugitives, when our men w^ith- 
drew to Sugar Creek and remained in line of battle for more than 
two hours. As the enemy failed to appear, we retreated towards 
the Tennessee. General Forrest in his report says ''The enemy 
made no further attacks between Sugar Creek and the Tennessee 
River, which stream I crossed on December the 27th." 


Forrest proceeded to Corinth with all the cavalry, except Arm- 
strong's and Roddy's brigades, that were to protect Hood's rear 
till the army passed westward of Cherokee Station. All the cav- 

IZZ Mississippi Historical Society. 

airy but Ross' brigade were then allowed to disperse to their 
homes to get remounts, winter-clothing, and recruits. The Tex- 
ans were too far from home and the Mississippi River was too 
well guarded by gun-boats. The Noxubee Squadron of Pinson's 
regiment were furloughed for twenty days. It goes without 
saying, we had the time of our lives. All the delights of home 
were experienced. I cannot describe them as they deserve to be 
portrayed, and shall not undertake to do so. But I hazard naught 
when I claim that Lieutenant S. B. Day, Alec McCaskill, and 
J. G. Deupree were at least somewhat more fortunate than the oth- 
ers. We were challenged one afternoon by three beautiful and 
amiable and expert Chess amateurs, Misses Duck Foote, daugh- 
ter of our first Captain, Judge H. W. Foote, Pattie Lyle, after- 
wards famous as Mrs. Pattie Lyle Collins of the Dead Letter Of- 
fice in Washington, and Fannie Lucas, afterwards Mrs. Feather- 
stone of Brooksville, to play a consultation game of Chess that 
evening at the hospitable home of Judge Foote. In the exuber- 
ance of joy, we accepted, knowing full well the great pleasure in 
store for us. When we arrived, we found all preparations had 
been made. Two tables and sets of Chess-men had been ar- 
ranged, one in each of the double parlors. Around one table sat 
the three queens of ^race and beauty while at the other the cav- 
alrymen took their places. Judge Foote, himself a good player 
also, was chosen referee by unanimous vote ; for though we knew 
his innate gallantry would incline him to give the benefit of any 
doubt to the ladies, we felt sure his rare judicial temperament 
would make him a just arbiter of any disputed point that might 
arise in the progress of the game. By drawing, the ladies won the 
Whites and the initial move. They moved Paw-n to King 4. We 
replied the same. Shortly after we had passed the mid-game, the 
cavalrymen by skillful maneuvering outwitted the opposing team 
and were preparing to give the coup de grace. Each side had a 
passed Pau*n on the seventh rank. It was the Black's turn to 
play. After some consultation, the cavalrymen decided they 
would advance the passed Pazim to the eighth rank, claim a 
Knight, and thus at the same time check the white King and men- 
ace the white Queen. But, foreseeing this impending disaster, 

1 j- -''i '';^.:1B. 
.... .... «••, . - 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deiipree. 123 

the ladies executed a novel strategy to prevent it. By the tintin- 
nabulation of a tiny bell, they summoned a maid-servant bearing- 
a waiter_, which contained seven foaming- glasses of egg-nog, 
better far, from a soldier's vievv'-point, than the nectar of Olympi- 
an Jupiter. The ladies sipped gently, Vv-hile the soldiers drained 
their glasses. While there is no positive proof that these last 
glasses were extra-strong, it is certain that an instantaneous thrill 
sped along the nerves of the cavalrymen, obfuscated their reason- 
ing faculties, and kindled their imaginations. Caring naught for 
hazard or peril, they shoved the passed Pawn, and, forgetting 
their ^decision, to claim a Knight, they called for a Queen, which 
did not check, as the Knight would have done. This was fatal. 
The ladies then quietly pushed forward their passed Pawn and 
very ^properly claimed a Queen, which checked our King and 
after.a few moves effected a mate: Thus ended the game and an 
evening of dehght. ' How sad it is nov/ to reflect that I am the 
only ^survivor of that most felicitous evening's entertainment ! 


I need not undertake to give a full and detailed account of 
Wilson's invasion of Alabama, with perhaps the largest and in 
all respects ^he best armed body of cavalry ever assembled on the 
continent of America. To those. interested, I advise the read- 
ing of Wyeth's Life of Forrest. After the expiration of fur- 
loughs, Armstrong's brigade all assembled near West Point, 
Misi, just as Armstrong had pledged General Dick Taylor they 
would; do; and, on March .25th with King's battery, were put in 
motion towards Selma, Ala. The cavalr^^ had been regrouped 
somewhat, so that Jackson commanded a division of Tenues- 
seeans and Texans, while Armstrong was put in the division of 
Chalmers. Forrest temporarily enlarged his own escort by add- 
ing to it two-hundred men with the best horses selected from 
the several regiments of Armstrong's brigade. With them was 
Captain T. J. Deupree of the Noxubee Cavalry. By hard riding 
accompanied by this enlarged escort, on the afternoon of the 
31st Forrest was moving along the rOad leading from Centre- 

124 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ville to Montevallo, while Crosslanrrs threc-hnndred Kentuck- 
ians and Dan Adams' Alabama Militia and Roddy's small divi- 
sion were driven before Upton's and Long's troops under Wil- 
son. Forrest at lengih came in behind these Federals into the 
road on which the Alabamians and Kentuckians were retreating 
and the Federals were pursuing. What occurred I shall now 
tell in the language of Dr. Wyeth : 

"Having approached within less than one-hundred yards of 
the Federals, who were in considerable confusion after having 
lost their formation in their hot pursuit of the fleeing Confeder- 
ates, Forrest boldly, at the head of his stafif and his enlarged es- 
cort, ordered the men to draw their six-shooters and in column 
of fours charged directly into the road, riding along with the 
Federal cavalry. This sudden and altogether unexpected attack, 
its boldness, and the severe work of the repeating pistols in the 
hands of those picked men, threw the Federals into still greater 
confusion, and drove them in a stampede from the scene. Hav- 
ing captured a number of prisoners, Forrest learned that Wil- 
son's main command had parsed down the road and was between 
him and Selma. With this information, he left the road and 
after a detour of eight or ten miles rapidly passed around the 
Federal column, and reached his command about 10 o'clock that 
night ijear Randolph and directly in the path of the approaching 


*'As the divisions of Upton and Long advanced towards Selma 
early on the morning of April 1st, they encountered small de- 
tachments of Confederates and drove them back with slight ef- 
fort until they reached a point several miles north of Planters- 
ville, known as Ebenezer Church. Here Forrest was greatly 
chagrined to receive a message from Chalmers informing him 
he had met with such obstacles in his route that he could not 
reach Plantersville in time to unite with him on that day. For- 
rest was furious with rage on reading this dispatch. He then 
sent an urgent dispatch to his lieutenant that Wilson was press- 
ing down upon him with great vigor and overv*- helming forces. 



The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcuprce. 125 

and that he would accept no excuse for his not uniting with him- 
at Plantersville or between that place and Selma, before he 
should be driven into the works of that city. Forrest in,>^ioted 
that Oialmers had not moved with the alacrity and swiftness 
which the emergency demanded, and which had characterized 
him on all other occasions. Chalmers, with Starke's brigade, 
was marching eastward by one route, while Armstrong com- 
manding the other brigade of the division was some five miles 
further north travelling by a parallel road. The messenger from 
Forrest to Chalmers passed through Armstrong's command, and 
Armstrong read the dispatch and forwarded it immediately to 
Chalmers, informing him that under the circumstances he would 
not wait to receive orders btit would march to Forrest on his 
own responsibility and urged the division commander also to 
press on towards Plantersville to the rescue of their chief. He 
added that he could then hear tiring in that direction and that 
he would rapidly march tov/ards it. Armstrong, who had the 
soldierly habit of always arriving in time, swept forward with 
great rapidity and reached Forrest just at dark on the night of 
April 1st. 

bogler's creek. 

"Realizing the desperate situation of his command at this junc- 
ture and the necessity for holding the advance of the Federals 
in check until Chalmers could reach Plantersville and be in sup- 
porting distance, Forrest had selected a naturally strong position 
at the crossing of Bogler's Creek, had thrown up lay-outs of 
rails and logs, and had placed the small force and artillery at 
his command in the best possible position for defense. Here 
Roddy's division, Crossland's brigade, and Dan Adams' militia 
were thrown into line of battle. Forrest with bis enlarged es- 
cort, including the two-hundred men selected from Armstrong's 
brigade, took position immediately with the artillery command- 
ing the road coming from the north. To his left, Crossland's 
three-hundred Kentuckians were posted, while on the extreme 
right a detachment of State troops under Dan Adams w'as 
placed. The entire Confederate force on the field did not exceed 

■ti s 

126 Mississippi Historical Society. 

2,000 men. To assail this force, General Wilson had on the 
ground and in action Upton's division, 3,900 strong, Long's 
division of 5,127, and two full batteries of artillery. 


*'At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the Federals appeared with 
Long's division in front. As soon as the skirmishers opened 
fire, Long reinforced his advance-guard. . . . Pushing these 
forward, Wilson and Long ordered a rash sabre-charge by four 
companies of the Seventeenth Indiana Cavalry. As soon as 
Forrest saw tliese gallant troopers riding down upon him with 
their sabres in air, he placed himself in line with his augmented 
escort and Crossland's Kentuckians. He ordered the men to re- 
serve their rifle-fire until the enemy had come within one-hun- 
dred yards of their position, then to fire a volley, then to draw 
their revolvers, and with one in each hand to ride among and 
along with their assailants and use these weapons at close quar- 
ters. As the Federals came near, the horse of one trooper in 
their front plattoon became unmanageable, ran far ahead of the 
line, bolted through the Confederates, and struck the wheel of 
a gun with such momentum as to knock the wheel from its spin- 
dle, dismount the gun, kill the horse, and throw the brave rider 
to the ground, where, he was instantly killed by being knocked 
in the head with a gun-stick by one of the artillerists. As the 
main body of the charging colimin swept into the Confederate 
line, Forest and his enlarged escort and two companies of Ken- 
tuckians under Captain H. A. Tyler rode in among them, and 
the desperate encounter which occurred may be more easily imag- 
ined than described in words. It was, indeed, one of the most 
terrific hand-to-hand conflicts which occurred between cavalry 
soldiers during the war. It was a test between the sabre in the 
hands of as brave a lot of men as ever rode horses and the six- 
shooter in the hands of experts that were just as desperately 
brave and daring. Forrest himself was most viciously assaulted. 
His conspicuous presence made him the object of direct attack 
by a brave young officer, Captain Taylor of the Seventeenth In- 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 127 

diana Cavalry, and live or six other Union troopers, who were 
killed in their attempt to slay the Confederate General. In this 
fierce onslaught, the Federals lost twelve killed and forty 
wounded. . . . On the Confederate side, General Forrest 
and Captain Boone of his escort and about a dozen troopers 
were wounded, but none of them fatall/'. I regret my inability 
to give the names of the wounded troopers from the First Mis- 
sissippi Cavalry in Forrest's enlarged escort. 

Meantime, Upton's division, led by Alexander's brigade, ad- 
vanced upon the flank, practically in rear of the Confederates, 
striking the militia. Without offering the slightest resistance, 
these fled in disorder, compelling the entire Confederate line to 
be withdrawn. 


When General Forrest reported on April 2d to General Dick 
Taylor, Departmental Commander in Selma, he evidently made 
a strong impression, for General Taylor said in an official com- 
munication: "General Forrest had fought as if the world de- 
pended on his arm. He appeared, both horse and rider covered 
with blood, and announced the enemy at his heels, and said I 
must move at once to escape capture. I felt anxious for him^ 
but he said he was unhurt and v/ould cut his way through, as 
most 'of his men had done, whom he had ordered to meet him 
west of the Cahawba. My engine started towards Meridian and 
barely escaped." 

By the departure of General Taylor, the chief command de- 
volved .upon Forrest, who began at once to make dispositions for 
defense, hopeless as it seemed, as three of his largest brigades 
were absent and beyond his control. Armstrong's brigade, about 
1,400 strong, was stationed on the left and west, with the men 
deployed at intervals of 12 or 15 feet, in order to cover all the 
ground assigned to the brigade. On the right of Armstrong was 
Dan Adams with his State Militia, also deployed at like inter- 
vals, and to the right of the militia were Roddy's men, in the 
same extended development. Altogether, Forrest had alx)ut 

128 Mississippi Historical Society. 

3,000 men in works that had been designed and constructed for 

Lieutenant Tom Stevens and a dozen men from the Noxubee 
Squadron were detailed as scouts to go out and ascertain the 
number of Federals approaching* on the Plantcrsville road. Shelt 
Skinner and J. G. Deupree were posted in a thicket only a few 
feet east of the road with instructions to count the fours as the 
column of Federals rapidly passed along the road. This they 
did quietly and unobserved by the Federals for some time. At 
length, however, flankers discovered Skinner and Deupree and 
charged upon them. Quickly mounting and finding it impossible 
to get into the Selma road ahead of the Federal column, Skinner 
and Deupree rode east at a gallop through field and forest with 
a number of pursuing Federals chasing and firing at them till 
after sunset. Lieutenant Stevens and others of our squad were 
likewise cut off from Selma. 

Meantime, General Wilson had come within sight of Selma 
and made observations that iiiduced him to attack. Confident of 
success and appreciating the prize now almiost within his grasp, 
he approached with special care to avoid needless loss. An ex- 
tensive wood in front of Armstrong's position was favorable for 
this purpose. Though not provided with suitable ammunition, 
having only solid shot, the Confederate artillery opened about 
5:30 p. m. upon the Federals as they were forming for assault. 
Undaunted, the Federals moved steadily and handsomely for- 
ward to their w^ork. They were all well armed with Spenser 
rifles, repeaters, and breech-loaders, and from their massive lines 
three-deep they poured out an incessant stream of leaden hail, 
to which the return-fire of the attenuated Confederate line was 
as that of a skirmish to the mighty uproar of a great battle at 
its climax. Long in person led the desperate charge of his gal- 
lant division against Armstrong's position. With well-attested 
courage and stubbornness, Armstrong's men held their ground. 
Meanwhile, the militia began to yield and gradually abandoned 
the breastworks, leaving a wide gap between Armstrong and 
Roddy, and thus exposing Armstrong's right. Roddy was there- 
upon ordered to move by his left flank westward and close this 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 129 

gap; but, before he could do it, the enemy had rushed the de- 
serted line and interposed great numbers between Armstrong 
and Roddy, thus effectively cutting them asunder. Turning 
westward, the on-rushing Federals poured an enfilading fire upon 
Armstrong, who had repulsed three attacks upon his front and 
inflicted heavy loss upon his immediate assailants. Now^ how- 
ever, under fire from flank and rear as well as front, Armstrong 
withdrew and his brigade necessarily suffered greatly. The last 
to leave their position were the First Mississippi Cavalry under 
Pinson. They stoutly stood until the enemy were completely in 
their rear, so that the Colonel, the Lieutenant-Colonel, and most 
of the intrepid oflicers and men were captured. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Montgomery in his ''Reminiscences'' says : 
"Our regiment occupied the works to the left, extending from 
the road to a deep and narrow ravine which crossed the w^orks 
and ran for a little way in front of the works on our extreme 
left. Near the road was a special fort, in which a few hundred 
men might find shelter, with embrasures for guns. Here two 
guns were placed. Ballentine's regiment was in the works on 
the right of the road. . . . About half-way to the extreme 
left of the First Mississippi, resting on the ravine, there were 
high earthworks projecting at right angles from the breastworks 
some thirty feet or more. This was designed, perhaps, to pre- 
vent an enfilading fire, if the enemy should gain possession of 
our works on either side of this salient. Here I had tied my 
horse, a very fine one and but recently purchased. I walked 
then up to the fort; Colonel Pinson and I agreed that if an as- 
sault was made, he would take charge of the right and I of the 
left of the regiment, since the regiment had been stretched into 
a long line. Forrest, Armstrong, Pinson, and I were in the fort 
with some other oflicers. Occasionally a cannon shot was fired 
at the ridge which hid the enemy from our view. They then 
brought up a gun and returned our fire. I doubt not. Forrest 
was cursing Chalmers for not coming up or else praying that he 
would come speedily. The sun was nearly down. A long- dark 
Kne of men appeared on the brow of the ridge, moving slowly 
forward for a while, but soon charging and cheering and rush- 

'r^' iKiT 


130 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ing onward. I hastened to my place in iinc and was just in time 
to caution the men not to fire till I gave the word, for the enemy 
were yet too far for our fire to be effective. 

"Rapidly approaching behind the dismounted Federals, could 
be seen on the ridge a strong column of mounted men, awaiting 
a favorable moment to charge. I could no longer restrain my 
men ; they would begin firing too soon. But, as the enemy came 
nearer, I could plainly see the effects of our fire, though it did 
not appreciably check the progress of our assailants. Because of 
the salient, I could not see what was going on towards our right ; 
but in my immediate front the enemy had reached the ravine 
and were crowding into it to protect themselves from our galling 
fire. Many of them were within less than twenty feet of our 
breastworks. Stepping up on the banquette at the base of the 
parapet, I fired my Tranter five times into the struggling mass 
and had begun reloading, when I heard wild cheering to the 
right. With me w'ere four companies, including Montgomery's 
and the Noxubee Squadron; and, knowing we had effectively 
repulsed the enemy in our immediate front and that two com- 
panies could now hold our line, I ordered two companies to fol- 
low me to the right. As I came round the salient, I saw For- 
rest, Armstrong, and their staffs, and other mounted men, with 
one or two caissons, going at headlong speed towards the cit>\ 
. . . I knew that all was lost. The right of the regiment 
was even then rapidly retreating, Pinson with them calling 'Halt' 
at every step. There was-, no time for me to speak to the Colo- 
nel. Unhitching my horse and calling to the men to follow, I 
fell back towards the ravine in our rear, but my horse fell dead 
before we reached it. I could see the Federals pouring over the 
works to the right not a hundred yards away and their mounted 
column fast approaching. As we reached the ravine, the enemy 
were firing upon us. Realizing the impossibility of getting away, 
I gave my last order during the war, which was for the men to 
throw down their arms. In a moment a crowd of blue-coats had 
gathered around us. I suppose I had fifty men with me under 
Captain Cravens. Captain Montgomery had gotten across the 
ravine and was one of the few men of the regiment to escape 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deuprec. 131 

death or wound or capture. I at once recognized a Federal ser- 
geant from his chevrons. He demanded my pistol. I handed 
it to him. He then asked for my pocket-book. I took it out, 
saying it contained a locket with my wife's portrait which I 
would like to keep. He said that would be all right; and as I 
opened my pocket-book, he saw Confederate money and said if 
that was the only sort of money I had that I might keep it. This 
was the unkindest cut of all. I put the purse back into my 
pocket. He looked up and told me to give him my hat. It was 
brand new and had been smuggled through oMemphis, and my 
wife had looped it up on one side and embroidered a star on it. 
I prized it highly and hated to part with it. But the sergeant 
had lost his in the charge and would take no denial. I then gave 
it to him with as good a grace as possible. Ail this was done in 
less time than it takes to tell it. . . . As w^e were marching 
back towards our fort, a straggler of the Federal army stepped 
up to me and with an oath threatened to shoot me ; but the brave 
sergeant threw up the gun and cursed him as a cowardly scoun- 
drel, who had shirked the fight and now wished to murder pris- 
oners. . . . The sun was down and as a Major on General 
Wilson's staff rode up, I introduced myself and related what had 
just happened. He at once called the sergeant and gave him 
stringent orders to protect the prisoners. . . . Then as dusk 
came on. Colonel Pinson, Major Simmons, Captains Taylor, Les- 
ter, I>eupree, and other officers of the regiment were brought 
in; and the fort would not hold us all. In fact, the First Mis- 
sissippi had fought its last battle; and almost to a man, we had 
been killed, wounded, or captured. ... I have never seen 
General Wilson's report. Neither Forrest nor Armstrong ever 
made a report. 

"They guarded us in the fort through the long and dreary 
night, and next morning dawned upon as woe-begone a lot of 
cavalry as was ever seen during the war. Tired, hungry, sleepy, 
and dirty, we must have been a hard-looking set, if we looked 
at all as we felt. ... In the course of the morning, Colonel 
Pinson, myself, and Captain Tobe Taylor requested permission 
to go over the field and see our dead and wounded. This was 


132 Mississippi Plistorical Society. 

promptly granted. A guard went with us. From the works as 
far back as some of our men had gone when trying to escape, 
fully a half-mile, we found dead and wounded, though some of 
the wounded had been carried to a hospital under the care of our 

"As we went over the ground, we found that the pockets of 
the dead had been turned wrong-side-out. One brave fellow, 
whom I knew well, who had gotten further than any other of 
the dead, had his pockets also turned inside-out, and by his side 
lay his bible. He had been noted for his piety as well as for his 
courage, and his influence for good was marked. He belonged 
to Captain Lester's company, was a good man in every way and 
a brave soldier, and has gone to his reward. . . . Our guard 
took us to our hospital, which had been hastily prepared. Here 
we found among others our Adjutant Johnston, and we were 
shocked when Dr. Montgomery told us his hours were numbered. 
We said all we could to cheer him and bade him an affectionate 
and final adieu. He died that night. I^d'any others of our regi- 
ment and brigade were there, and we saw them all ; some lived, 
and some died,; but I cannot now recall their names. Altogether, 
about one hundred in our regiment were killed and wounded, 
and about as many in Ballentine's. We were then escorted back 
to our prison in the fort. While we were walking over the field, 
a Federal took a fancy to Colonel Pinson's hat, but our guards 
proved to be kind-hearted and brave and protected Colonel Pin- 

I have heard Captain T. J. Deupree tell how he and Lieuten- 
ants Day and Foote-emptied their navy-sixes right into the faces 
of the Federal assailants on their part of the line, and how our 
Noxubee men stood firmly and repulsed several a>>aults and in- 
flicted heavy loss on the enemy. He also told how the Federal 
cavalry, after rushing through the gap left by the fleeing militia, 
had turned westward and come up directly in the rear of the 
Noxubee Squadron and fired into their backs before they left 
the breastworks. He said that he and Day and Foote and others 
fell flat on their faces and feigned death to protect themselves 
from the frenzied Federals till a commissioned othcer came, tc 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 133 

whom they might surrender. Though but a few minutes, it 
seemed an age and a fearful one at that. At length, however, a 
Major came along, and they were saved. The Major received 
their surrender and ordered the officers to the fort. 

It will be of interest just here to insert the following condensed 
statement from the Diary of Sergeant J. J. Hunter, of the Noxu- 
bee Troopers : 

When the First Mississippi fronted into line, before going into 
the breastworks at Selma, they counted off by fours ; and I, be- 
ing No. 4, was among those who had to hold horses. We car- 
ried the horses back two-hundred yards into a dense pine-thicket 
to hide them from the artillery. But the hostile artillerymen 
somehow discovered us and shelled us, killing many horses and 
wounding a few men. A fragment of shell grazed my shoulder 
and a passing shell blew my hat off and exploded within the belly 
of a horse not far behind me and made hash-meat of the horse. 
We held our position, however, till the Yankees began pouring 
over the breastworks. T'hen most of the horseholders stampeded 
to the rear, riding their own horses but turning loose the others. 
I with a few others walked back slowly, each leading four horses, 
obliquing so as to fall-in wdth General Armstrong, who w^as try- 
ing to rally his men. He ordered us to mount and to follow him. 
Just at this moment, a minie-ball passed through my right knee ; 
and I violently clutched the bridles of my horses till I could re- 
cover from the shock, resting my weight entirely on my left leg. 
General Armstrong saw me and ordered some men to put me on 
my horse. I then fainted, leaning on my horse's neck and cling- 
ing to his mane, while a man on each side held me in the saddle, 
as we were all going at full speed. I next found myself lying 
on the ground beside the road about one-hundred yards from a 
railroad station-house and platform. About one-hundred yards 
behind me was the Yankee line tiring at our men about the sta- 
tion as they crouched behind cotton-bales and the blocks of the 
platform. I was midway between the two firing lines and fullv 
realized my danger. I pulled my wounded leg from under me 
and crawled about ten feet and got behind a bale of cotton, which 
protected me from the Yankee missiles ; and a Confederate officer 

">f1 i 

134 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ordered our men to be careful not to shoot me. During a brief 
lull in the firing, two of Roddy's men came and carried me back 
to the station and laid me behind one of the platform blocks. 
When the Yankees resumed firing, I borrowed an Enfield and 
fired four rounds at them before they fled. I was then put on a 
pallet and left in the station. An Alabamian staid with me. The 
Yankees came and we surrendered. They carried off the un- 
wounded Alabamian. A rough old German asked me if we were 
not sufftciently whipped. I told him we would fight to the last 
to protect homes, fire-sides, women and children. He jerked out 
his pistol and said that the bullet should have gone through my 
head, rather than through my knee ; and said he would put one 
there. I told him he might kill my body but could not terrify 
my soul. Just then some Westerners came up and presented 
their pistols to his face, denounced him as a coward, and ordered 
him at once to put his pistol in its holster, and leave the helpless 
prisoner. Those brave Westerners assured me I should not be 
hurt. At length, one of them looking me closely in the face 
asked if I was not Sergeant Hunter. I told him this was what 
was left of me. He grasped my hand and said: "Here is the 
man who once guarded me as a prisoner for several days and 
treated me as cleverly and kindly as I could wish. Comrades, 
join me now in returning his generous kindness". He introduced 
me and they all gave me the hand of comradeship and proffered 
to help me all they could. They told m.e all of our regiment had 
been captured at the breastworks and quite a number had been 
killed, much to their regret, as they considered the First ]\Iissis- 
sippi the best cavalry regiment in the Southern army, noted as 
a dare-devil body of men, who feared nothing whatever, as they 
had found out in many engagements but especially at Moscow, 
Tennessee, where the First Mississippi had run into their brigade 
oif three regiments and so destroyed them, that afterwards the 
three regiments were consolidated into one and called the Second 
Iowa-Illinois. They said they were in the third line in the charge 
on our breastworks at Selma, that the two lines in front of them 
gave way, but they rushed on and got under cover of the breast- 
works and dared not go further, knowing the First Mississippi 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 135 

was in front of them. They waited till the First Mississippi had 
been attacked in the rear, and then did what they could to save 
their lives, capturing all the officers and niany of the men. Be- 
fore leaving me, they had me taken to a private house near by. 
Here I fell to the care of an old negro who had been left in 
charge when the family fled to escape the Yankees. I was put 
in the kitchen. When I got cold, the good negro made me a fire. 
I dropped off to sleep but was waked soon by bursting shells. 
I looked out and saw the town on fire and the station house, too, 
whence I had been brought. Cinders and sparks fell almost 
everywhere, thick and fast around the house I was in. I called 
the negro but he did not answer. I fell, at length, into a gentle 
sleep. I awoke next morning and the sun was shining brightly, 
and I spent the day reading quietly and all alone. At night I 
was sleeping when three of my Yankee friends woke me about 
9 o'clock and told me they had an ambulance ready to take me 
to the Confederate hospital. They said they had been busy all 
day burying the dead and caring for the w^ounded. Their loss, 
they said, exceeded SOQ, and ours 300, exclusive of a large num- 
ber of prisoners. At the hospital, the surgeons consulted as to 
the amputation of my leg, and but one opposed amputation. 
Then the chief surgeon came and after my pleading with him, 
consented to leave me my leg. It was washed and dressed, and 
I was placed on a bunk, so that my leg could hang over the side. 
It got well with a crook in it and it has that same crook yet. The 
Yankee surgeon sent me some nice food which I enjoyed amaz- 
ingly, for I had eaten nothing during thirty-six hours. Father 
and mother came within the next few days and remained with 
me. Ijivas well treated and recovered rapidly. I was soon on 
my crutches. So ended the war with me." 

Besides J. J. Hunter, who had here received his fifth wound 
since entering the service, Gus Fant and others were wounded 
in Company F; while Nat Barnett, James Brooks, John Fraser, 
Charley Gray, Dabney Gholson, William Perry, and Wiley Shaw 
were killed. The killed and wounded in Company F were fully 
50% of those engaged in the battle. I regret I cannot give a 
list of the killed and wounded in Company G. But their casual- 


136 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ties were comparatively few ; and it will always be a mystery 
how and why the losses of Co. F so far exceeded those of Com- 
pany G at Sclma, when the two companies were interlaced, as 
it were, in the breastworks, each member of one company being 
sandwiched, so to speak, between two members of the other com- 
pany. All other members of the Noxubee Squadron, except 
some horseholders, were captured, as were our dashing and in- 
trepid Adjutant, Lawrence Yates and other regimental and com- 
pany officers. 

Wyeth's Life of Forrest tells how he escaped and on his way 
out fought the. Fourth U. S. Regulars, and by personal prowess 
put hers de combat his thirtieth armed enemy, and how Arm- 
strong and his followers escaped. 

Our squad under Lieutenant Stevens, after being chased by 
the Federals till late, somehow next morning came together, and 
by capturing several distinct detachments of straggling and pil- 
fering Federals soon had more than twice as many prisoners as 
there were men in our squad. We reported late at night to Col- 
onel Matt Galloway at Marion, Ala. Here in a few days were 
concentrated Jackson's division and Chalmers' brigade. Not 
long afterwards, Forrest ordered all to Gainsville. 

General Wilson remained in Selma a week and then crossed 
the Alabama River, taking all unwounded prisoners with him, 
as he marched towards Montgomery. Hundreds escaped during 
the night-march, as only the officers were closely guarded. It 
is evident that Wilson intended to scatter the Confederates along 
the way; for on successive days he paroled many at long inter- 
vals. For example, he paroled W. G. White and Frank White, 
two brofhers and both valiant and faithful soldiers, more than 
100 miles apart. Then, after confirmation of Lee's and John- 
ston's surrender, Wilson paroled all the ofncers and the few Con- 
federate privates still with him. Finally, all made their way to 

After the surrender of General Dick Taylor, Forrest on May 
9th issued an address to his command, from which I quote the 
following paragraphs: 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 137 


By an agreement between Licutenant-General Taylor and 
Major-General Canby, the troops of this Department have been 
surrendered. The terms are favorable and should be satisfactory 
to all. They manifest a spirit of maG;"nanim!ty and liberality on 
the part of the Federal authorities, which should be met on our 
.part by a faithful compliance with all the stipulations and con- 
ditions therein expressed. As your Commander, I sincerely hope 
that every officer and soldier of my command will cheerfully 
obey the orders given and carry out in good faith all the terms 
of the cartel. 

"Civil war, such as you have just passed through, naturally 
engenders feelings of animosity, hatred, and revenge. It is our 
duty to divest ourselves of such feelings, and to cultivate friendly 
feelings toward those with w^hom we have so long contended, 
and heretofore so widely and honestly dittered. Neighborhood 
feuds, personal animosities, and private differences should be 
blotted out ; and, when you return home, a manly, straight-for- 
ward course of conduct will gain the respect even of your ene- 
mies. Whatever may be your responsibilities, whether to gov- 
ernment, to society, or to individuals, meet them like men. 

"In bidding you farewell, rest assured that you carry with you 
my best wishes for your future welfare and happiness. . . . 
Your courage and determination, as exhibited on many hard- 
fought fields, have elicited the respect and admiration of friend 
and foe. I now cheerfully and gratefully acknowledge my in- 
debtedness to you, the officers and men of my command, whose 
fidelity and unflinching bravery have been the greatest source 
of my success in arms. 

"I have never on the field of battle sent you wdiere I was un- 
willing to go myself ; nor would I now advise you to a course 
which I felt myself unwilling to pursue. You have been good 
soldiers ; you can be good citizens. Obey the laws, preserve your 
honor,^and the Government to which you have surrendered can 
afford to be, and will be magnanimous. 


N. B. Forrest, 

The utmost eagerness now prevailed to get home. General 
Dennis, a courteous gentleman, did all he could to accelerate the 
work of issuing paroles, and did it in a manner most acceptable 
to his late antagonists. By May IGth, 8,000 officers and men 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

had been paroled and allowed to start home. To that extent, at 

"To them the blooming life is sweet; 
But not for all is there return". 

Alas ! how sad it is to reflect that thousands of our dear com- 
rades, as valiant and strong of soul as ever died on battlefield in 
defense of their birthright, after making bright records at Don- 
elson, Murfreesboro, Thompson Station, Moscow, and in that 
dreadful winter retreat from Nashville, were in their graves on 
that day when Forrest's Cavalry ceased to exist! 


Roster of Company Q 

Adams, Frank 

Adams, Robert, Sergeant 

Alford, George W. 

Armstrong, William 

Atterberry, C. S. 

Augustus, William B., Corporal 

Ball, I. H. 

Barnham, John 

Barton, Thomas P. 

Beasley, J. R. 

Beasley, W. E., Adjutant 

Binion, A. D. 

Binion, W. 

Boggess, Thomas 

Boswell, A. J. 

Boyle, Robert W. 

Brooks, "James F., Sergeant 

Brooks, Thomas S. 

Bush, A. H. 

Bush, Albert, Jr. 

Bush, Anderson 

Bush, John D. 

Cahill, P. F. N. 

Caldwell, Robert L. 

Callahan, Michael 

Channing, George 

Carleton, Finnis E. 

Caston, Mid G 

Cheatham, W. A. 

Clark, Matthew 

Clarke, A. V. 

Clemments, Early C. 

Coats, James A. 

Colbert, WilliaDi H. 

Colbert, Jack 

Cole, Washipcton 

Connor, W. D. 

Connor, W. S. 

Cornelius, R. 

Cotton, I. B. 

Cox, F. L., Bugler 

Cranford, William H. 

Daniel, James. 

Daniel, H. M. 

Dantzler, A. J. 

Dantzler, Groves H, Sergeant 

Dantzler, J. L., Sr. 

Dantzler, J. L., Jr. 

Dantzler, Thomas M. 

Day, Samuel B., Second Lieuten- 

Deal, Nick 

Deupree, Joseph Lattimore, Third 

The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 139 

Deupree, Joseph Ellington 

Deu-pree, Joseph Everett 

Deupree, John G. 

Deupree, Thomas Jefferson, Cap- 

Deupree, William Daniel 

Deupree, William Drewry 

Doogan, J. L. 

Dooly, William W. 

Douglass, James H. 

Douglass, William W., Sergeant 

East, Samuel 

Eckford, H. Q,. 

Eckford, James W., Third Lieu- 

Edwards, T. J. 

Elland, James O. 

Eiland, Lake Erie 

Evans, John H. 

Pairforce, J. W. 

Farrow, W, L. 

Foote, Henry D. 

Foote, H. W., Captain 

Foote, W. H., Third Lieutenant 

Garvin, Robert 

Glass, A. D. 

Glass, E. 

Goodwin, George H. 

Goodwin, Thomas J. 

Grant, J. A. 

Greenwood, J. E. 

Greer, Alonzo. 

Greer, Felix B., Sergeant 

Greer, Fred J. 

Greer, John H. 

Greer, Julius A., Sergeant 

Haley, Daniel D. 

Hall, R. B. 

Hamilton, T. 

Hardy, John C. 

Hardy, Louis W. 

Harper, A. C. 

Harper, J. C. 

Harper, R. H. 

Hartly, S. B. 

Haynes, H. C, Corporal 
H3bbler,J. E. 
Hibbler, Robert, Corporal 
Kibbler, Tol 
Higgins. O. H. 
Hinton, George W. 
Holberg, Jacob, Sergeiint 
Howlett, Jack 
Howlett, H. C. 
Hudson, H. A. 

Hudson, William J., Sergeant 
Hughes, William A. 
Hunter, C. M., Third Lieutenant 
Hunter, Henry M., Corporal 
Hunter, V/illis 
Ingram, J. 
Jackson, Samuel D. 
Jackson, William R. 
Jarnagin, J. C. 
Jenkins, Cyrus 
Johnson, Woodson 
Joiner, R. H. 
Jones, R. H. 

KeowD, Robert W., Corporal 
King, James A,, Captain 
Lea, Joseph, Sergeant 
Lea, Pryor, Jr. 
Lewis, Clarke 
Lewis, Samuel P. 
Lindsay, H. M., First Lieutenant 
Little, William 
Lockett, A. J. 
Lockett, R. A. 
Lynch, Nicholas 
Lyon, A, J. 
Lyon, Augustus 
Lyon, Major 
Magee, T. H. 
Mauldin, Frank 
Manldin, Jesse 
May, Joseph J., CorpoyaJ 
McCasklll, A. P. 
McCormick, Joseph 
McDavid, P. 
Mcintosh, Daniel 

- n 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

McClelland, Robert G. 

McMuUan, James D. 

Menees, I. R. 

Minor, H. A. 

Montague, Charles 

Muse, J. M. 

Neal, J. H. 

Pack, Dallas 

Pack, J. L. 

Pagan, William L. 

Parker, William 

Pendleton, John 

Perkins, Louis 

Pettus, Henry J: 

Pierce, Jacob H., Corporal 

Pierce, Nathaniel 

Pierce, John 

Pierce, Richard R. 

Pierce, Thomas M. 

Porter, H. 

Praytor, George W. 

Randall, W. R., Corporal 

Randall, John 

Rives, James H. 

Rives, Robert O. 

Ruff, F. M. 

Simmons, William H. 

Skfnner, I. L. 

Skinner, K. S. 

Smith, E. C. 

Smith. Robert 
Spann, John 
Suttrell, P. T. 
Swift, Robert B. 
Swift, Doctor J. 
Tate, C. M. 
Tate, William 
Taylor, William B. 
Thompson, Robert 
Walker, L. W. 

Walker, R. J. ' 

Watson, John, Sergeant 
Weinberg, Julius 
Weir, Robert 
Wellbourne, W. H. 
VvVilborne, Dr. S. G. 
Weston, A. J. 
White, Charles N. 
White, R. E., Orderly Sergeant 
Wier, R O., Second Lieutenant 
Williams, Hampton, Second Lieu- 
Williams, Henry 
Williams, J. C. 
Williams, John 
Wilson, W. P. 

Wright, J. J., First Lieutenant. 
Yates, H. 
Yates, Lawrence T., Adjutant 



Roster of Oompany F 

Adams, F. M. 

Adams, J. B. 

Adams, L. M. 

Anderson, Benjamin 

Anderson, Ephraim 

Archer, M. 

Aust, J. O. 

Barnett, Watt 

Barnhill, T. P. 

Bealle, John R., Captain 

Beasley, H. O., Second Lieuten- 
Bell, William 
Bethune, W. L. 
Bishop, G. L., Corporal 
Black, Joe 
Blair, John M. 
Boyle, D. C. 
Bridges, Thomas E. 
Brooks, James F., Sergeant 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Dcupree. 141 

Brown, C. 
Brown, Jess© 
Brown, S. M. 
Buck, John B. 
Burks, J. D. 
Cade, Jaff D., Sergeant 
CUeuthe, J. 
Colbert, Jack 
Coleman, Willir.m H. 
Coleman, C. M. 
Coran, R. A. 
Cotton, James 
Cotton, John 
Cox, W. A. 

Craven, L.' Mimbeau, Captain 
Crawfcrd, A. B. 
Crawford, G. W. 
Crossley, J. W. 
Dallas, John 
Dancy, Henry 
Daniel, Isaac 
Daniel, J. T. 
Davis, David 

Davis, James M., Sergeant 
Davis, John H. 
Davis, William M. 
Dean, William F. 
Denton, William, Corporal 
Denton, Jonah 
Dorroh, J. W. 
Deupree, Dr. T. M. 
Diggs, Willis 

Dowling, Charles, First Lieuten- 
Drake, Ig. A. 
Duncan, J. F.. 
Dyer, J. B. 
Eddings, W. W. 
Edgarton, J. N. 
Edwards, M. B. 
Edwards, W, A. 
Edwards, W. J. 
Erwin, C. H. 
Fanclier, An 5:11st us A. 
Fancher, F. B. 

Fancher, N. F. B. 

Fancher, J. F. 

Ferrell, H. H., Assistant Surgeon 

Ford, Robert 

Freeman, E. B., Assistant Surgeon 

Freeman, W. W. 
Gillespie, Lucullus 

Garmon, M. M. 
Gary, C. F. 

Garvin, G. P. 

Gholson, J?. son L. 

Gholson, W. D. 

Gholson, W. H. 

Gifford. Joseph 

Goodwin, G. W. 

Grjint, John 

Gregory, G. W. 

Haley, Andrew 

Happen, T. W. 

Hardy, John E., Assistant Surgeon 

Hardy, William B, 

Hare, Willir.m F.. Sergeant 
I Harris, Noah 

Harris, N. S. 

Harris, V. F. 
I Harrison, A. T. 
I Haynes. A. S. 

Haynes, J. M, 

Haynes, T. J. 

Henly, G. H. 

Henry, John 

Higgins. O. M. 

High. J. M. 

Hill. J. B. 

Hill, J. C. 

Hill, J. V. 

Hinton, Lafayette 

Holman, J. N. 

Hopper, J. F. 

Horn. V7 x\. 

Howard, Thomas 

Howze, H. L. 

Hudson, O. W. 

Hughes, Thomas 
1 Hunt, W. B. 

'.:r H 

9-t. :> 


Mississippi Historical Society. 

Hunter, H. M., Sergeant 

Hunter, H. U. 

Hunter, J. J., Sergeant 

Hunter, W. W. 

Hunter, Willis 

Irwin, F. R. 

Jackson, T. P. 

Joiner, William 

Jones, J. L. 

Jordan, J. J. 

Jenkins, J. F. 

Johnson, B. W. 

Johnson, T. W., Corporal 

Kelley, W. R. 

Lagrone, N. C. 

Little, E. S. 

Lockett, James 

I^ckett, W. B. . 

Logan, D. S. 

Logan, W. R. 

Long, R. P. 

Lovelace, W. T. 

Luke, James 

Lyle, J. B.. First Lieutenant 

Marshall. W. H. 

Martin, J. B. 

Martin, J. L. 

McDonald. Robert 

McKibben, W. A. 

McLeod, Randall 

McNeal, W. L. 

Menasco, J. H. 

Miller, W. L. 

Misso, Roscoe 

Montgomery, D. C. 

Montgomery, P. A. 

Moore, Andy, Corporal 

Moore, W. A. 

Moore, Thomas G. 

Moore, William 

Morgan, Samuel 

Morris, S. M. 

Morris, Zebulon 

Morrow, F. W. 

Morrow, G. W., Sergeant 

Mosely, J. T. 

Moulden, J. N. 

Nicholdson, P. G. 

Nix, David, Corporal 

Osborne, Egbert 

Park, E., Sergeant 

Payne, R. C. 

Payne, W. U. 

Pearre, James, Corporal 

Pearre, M. T. 

Perdue, J. P. 

Permenter, J. S. 

Perry, W. W. 

Peterson, S: M. 

Peterson, W. W. 

Petway, M. L., Sergeant 

Phillips, J. T. 

Prince, E. 

Putnam, L. D. 

Rives, J. H., Captain 

Rives, R. G., Sergeant 

Robins, J. R. 

Robins, James 

Robins, Wifiter 

Robinson, J. W. 

Rogers, James 

Rogers, Nick 

Rye, D. W. 

Saunders, P. 

Saunders, A. H. 

Shaw, Wiley 

Simmons, J. S. 

Sisk, W. A. 

Slaughter, Felix 

Slaughter. Henry 

Smith, G. W. 

Smith, Scribner, First Lieutenant 

Smith, J. J. S. 

Sorrell, J. P. 

Spann, Frnnk 

Staunton, Thomas S., Sergeant 

Stevens, Thomas, Third Licurei:- 

Stewart. T. B., Sergeant 
Stone, Samuel 


The Noxubee Squadron, Mississippi Cavalry — Deupree. 143 

Strickland, J. N. 

Swann, M. 

Sykes, Smith, Corporal 

Thomas, B. B. 

Thomas, D. N. 

Thomas, W. -E. 

Trimble, D. E. 

Walker, Benjamin, Corporal 

Walker, L. W. 

Walker, R. J. 

Walker, W. J. 

Warren, G. W. 

Warren, J. B. 

Warren, W. E. 

Warren, W. S. 

Watts, Benjamin 

Weathered, James 
Weinberg, Julius 
Wheeler, E. G. 
White, Willinm G. 
White, Frank S. 
White, A. J. 
Wilder, John 
Wilder, William 
Williams, John 
Williams, D. A. 
Williams, J. R. 
Williams. W. L 
Wilson. T. E., J. D. 
Wooten, J. S. 
Wright, E. 



Suivlvors of the Noxubee Squadron, October 1st., 1917 
Of Co. F— 

M. J. Clark, S. Reed Ave., 
Mobile, Ala. 

J. D. Weatherhead, Atlanta, 

Frank S. White, Birming- 
ham, Ala. 

W. G. White, West Point, 

Of Co. 

Deal A. Binion, Macon, 

T. S. Brooks, Gulf Port, 

Thomas Dantzler, Beau- 

voir, Miss. 
J. E. Deupree, Ivanhoe, 

J. G. Deupree, Jackson, 

T. J. Deupree, Texarkana, 

J. E. Hibbler, Macon, 

Robert Hibbler, Gainsville, 



By Dunbar Rowland, LL. D. 
Director Mississippi Department of Archives and HisLory. 

After the discovery of America by Columbus, the Spaniards 
made two heroic efforts to explore the interior of North Amer- 
ica. DeSoto and Coronado were the intrepid leaders of the ex- 
peditions, and if their routes are linked together, they almost 
reach across the continent from Georgia to the Gulf of Cali- 
fornia. The march of DeSoto has received most attention from 
historians and it deserves the distinction. His coming marks the 
advent of the white man on the soil of six great Southern States 
and the narratives of his march contain the earliest accounts of 
the Lower South, — of its flora, fauna and topography, of the 
Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Semlnoles, — Indian tribes 
famous in history, story and song, and of 'the discover^" of the 
Mississippi River and the first crossing of its waters by a white 

After the disastrous expedition of Narvaez, 1527-28, the vast 
region called Florida by the Spaniards was neglected. Their 
imagination, however, was much inflamed by the wealth found 
in Mexico and Peru by Cortez and Pizarro, and the next to try 
his fortune was Hernando de Soto, the son of an esquire of Xerez 
de Badajoz, who had been with Pizarro in the conquest of Peru, 
and who was eager to rival the exploits and achievements of 
Cortez and Pizarro. 

The best evidence of all the incidents connected with the De- 
Soto expedition is, of course, the written statements, made at 

• VsTipre did DeSoto discover the Mis?;issippi River? The T]ditor of these 
publications hdlds the opinion that the place of discovery wo^ in Tunica 
county. Missii^sippi. The ouostion i.s distnisscd by Juds"e J. F. YouncT of 
Memphis and the Editor in the foUowinp: papers. 


EHd DeSoto Discover the Mississippi River? — Rowland. 145 

the time by accurate and truthful men who accompanied it, and 
such narratives only can be received by the conscientious and 
careful historian. We have several satisfactory, accurate and 
reliable records of the DeSoto expedition, chief among which 
are several contemporary and independent narratives of the 
progress of the march, correctly translated from the original 
Spanish, viz: ''Narrative of the Gentleman of Elvas," (sup- 
posed to be Benedict Fernandez), which is the longest and one 
of the most accurate ; *'The Narrative of Louis Hernandez de 
Biedma," the factor of the expedition, which is highly colored 
and unreliable ; "The History of Hernando DeSoto and Florida," 
by Garciloso de la Vega (the Inca), compiled from oral state- 
ments of three of DeSoto's companions and written in 1591, fifty 
years after the expedition. This narrative is the least trust- 
worthy as the writer had no personal knowledge of the facts. 
The official report of the expedition which Rodrigo Ranjel, the 
secretary of De Soto, drew up from his diary, made from day to 
day on the march, on reaching Mexico, is the accepted and best 
account. My authority for these estimates is Dr. E. G. Bourne. 
of Yale, the scholarly author of ''Spain in America.'' 

The purpose of this paper is not to trace the entire route of 
DeSoto's tragic expedition. My purpose is to answer, guided 
by the best authorities, the question : "Did DeSoto discover the 
Mississippi River in Tunica County, Mississippi ?" Candor com- 
pels me to answer in the affirmative and to give the reasons for 
my conclusion and the evidence upon which it is based. 

I freely admit in the outset that the claim of Memphis as the 
place 'where the great river was discovered has been accepted 
by some Memphians, but that acceptance has, no doubt, been 
based upon the narrative of Garciloso de la Vega. "The Inca," 
which careful and complete investigation has shown to be un- 
reliable and not in accord with the narratives of the facts as 
given in all contemporary accounts. 

My contention is that the Mississippi River was discovered in 

Tunica County, Mississippi, at Willow Point, which the map of 

De L'Isle made in 1718. places about 30 miles in a straight line 

below Memphis, and in Tunica County. Not a map, so far as 


146 Mississippi Historical Society. 

I know, gives Memphis the honor of being the point at which 
the Mississippi was discovered. 

The most painstaking and accurate study of the route of the 
DeScto expedition is that of Theodore Hayes Lewis, the learned 
antiquarian, archaeologist and historian, which appears in Volume 
VL, Pages 449-467, Publications of the Mississippi Historical 
Society. I quote from that authority that part of his study which 
deals with the march of DeSoto from April 2G to June 18, 1541, 
which includes his immediate journey to and crossing of the 

"On Tuesday, April 26th, they left Chicacilla and slept at 
Alabamo. On Thursday they came to another savanna, where 
the Indians had constructed a very strong fort of palisades, 
which was located on the bank of a small river, near a ford. 
The Spaniards stormed it and drove the Indians out and across 
the river. This fort and ford were on the Tallahatchie river, 
and probably at or near New Albany, in Union County. Rocky 
Ford, located on section 17, town 7, range 1 east, some 15 miles 
below New Albany, is the last point down the river at which a 
crossing can be made by fording, but the topography makes it an 
improbable point. On Saturday, April 30th, the army left this 
enclosed place, turning to the westward. According to Elvas, 
the country they were now passing through was a wilderness of 
thick forests, having many marshy places that were fordable, 
and some basins and lakes (sluggish streams) that were not. 
In another place he says : "The land is low, abounding in lakes." 
Ran j el says they passed over bad roads leading through woods 
and swamps. This part of the route lay wholly within the State 
of Mississippi, for, had it been toward Memphis, they would 
have passed through a hilly region instead of one of swamps. 
While the route by way of Saccliuma would have been practi- 
cally of the same general character, they were prevented from 
taking it by reason of the hostility of the Indians, for then they 
would have had both tribes to contend with. 

"At noon on Sunday, May Sth, they arrived at the first town 
in Qnisquis, and carried it by sudden assault. A league distant 
was the second town, and at the end of another league they came 
to the third town, "where they saw the great river." On Satur- 
day, ^lay 21st, they moved to a meadow lying between the river 
and a little town, — the fourth one. Elvas says there was a river 
a crossbow-shot from the first town, and that they moved to 
another one (Ranjel's third town), a half league from the river, 

Did DeSoto Discover the Mississippi River? — Rowland. 147 

and from there to a plain near the river. The crossing was made 
either at Council Bend or Walnut Bend, in Tunica County, in a 
straight line some 25 to 38 miles below Memphis. DeLTsle 
(1718) seems to have been the first geographer to attempt to 
map the route, and he places the crossing at 'Tointe d'Oziers" 
(Willow Point) ; but the place cannot be identified. D'Anville 
(1735) shows ''Point d'Oziers," plainly enough as being about 
halfway between the mouths of the St. Francis and White rivers ; 
but this is too far down. The Chiaves map of 1598 (Ortelius' 
edition) and the Sanson map of 165G, the information on both 
of which is taken from the Elvas narrative, the Leide map 
(1700) having the names from Elvas and the Inca intermixed, 
and other maps of a similar character, are not taken into con- 

"The Memphis theory of the location of Quisquis and the 
crossing, which is based upon the Inca's accoimt, is untenable, 
and a fair analysis or review of his statements will show that 
neither the town nor the crossing was located at that point. He 
says: "They arrived in sight of a town called Chisca, which 
stood near a great river," which he calls the Chucagua ; that 
"many Indians gathered here (on the mound) and others in a 
very fine wood which lay between the town and the great river ;" 
and that "because of the many streams around there they could 
not use their horses." It will readily be seen that th^s description 
does not apply to the Fort Pickering mound. Ranjel gives the 
distance between the first and the third towns as being two 
leagues (over five miles) : Elvas says that they moved to another 
(the third) town, gives the distance between it and the river as 
being a half league, and the Inca fills in this space with "a very 
fine wood." Biedma says the town was near the banks of the 
Espiritu Santo, which statement refers to the third town. If 
commentators are right, and the town was located at the Fort 
Pickering mound, they should follow their authority (the Inca) 
for "four little days journey of three leagues each, up the river," 
which would make the crossing about 31 miles above the mound. 
The reason given by the Inca for this journey of 12 leagues was 
the dense woods, together with the high, steep banks of the ra- 
vines leading to the river (and evidently the river banks also), 
"so that one could neither go up nor down them." It is a well 
known fact that, wherever "the channel of the lower ^Mississippi 
river strikes the edge of the flood plain, it is continually cutting 
away the bank, so that it is perpendicular or nearly so. There- 
fore, this part of his description is applicable to all such places. 
It should be borne in mind, however, that none of the narratives 
mention this journey." 

148 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The scholarly study of Mr. Lewis was published in 1902 and 
no historian has thought it wise to question his conclusions. 

The best translation of the narratives of the DeSoto expedi- 
tion is found in the ''Narratives of DeSoto," edited by Edward 
Gaylord Bourne, LL. D., Professor of History in Yale University, 
published in 1904, in two volumes as a part of "The Trail Mak- 
ers." In his introductory note he gives an accurate estimate of 
the narratives of the expedition and in his opinion "The Inca" 
cannot be relied on. John G. Shea, another authority on the 
route of DeSoto, is of the same opinion. All the narratives, 
with the exception of "the Inca's," were written by participants in 
the expedition and were contemporary with it. 

My purpose in presenting this qu^^stion is to correct what I 
believe to be an error which has almost become an accepted fact 
among many well informed and intelligent people. H I am 
depriving the great and prosperous City of ^lemphis of one of 
her most cherished traditions, let me assure her people that I do so 
w^ith regret, li some of your images are broken by this discus- 
sion, truth requires it. H you are in error in claiming that De- 
Soto discovered the great river from your beautiful bluffs. I know^ 
that you will graciously concede it and heartily accord the honor 
to the State which bears the name of the mighty stream, discov- 
ered by the intrepid Spaniards three hundred and seventy-five 
years ago. 
State Department of Archives and History, 

Jackson, Miss., January 30, 1917. 


A Review of the Works of Various Historians of the Great 
Spaniard's Life.* 

By Judge J. P. Young. 

An article entitled ''Discovery of the Mississippi," which ap- 
peared in The Commercial Appeal of Feb. 18, ult., from the pen 
of Dr. Dunbar Rowland, director, Mississippi Department of 
Archives and History, and the conclusions reached by the learned 
historian as to the point at which DeSoto first saw the great 
river, calls for a challenge from the people of Memphis, to 
whom he appeals for an indorsement. To assent would be to 
tamely surrender what they have so fondly claimed for nearly a 
century, the distinction of living about the site of the village at 
which it was discovered in 1541, the Indian hamlet of Chisca. 
The author of the article says : 

*T freely admit in the outset that the claim of Memphis as the 
place where the great river was discovered has been accepted by 
some Memphians, but the acceptance has been based no doubt on 
the narrative of Garcilaso de la Vega, The Inca/ which careful 
and complete 'investigation has shown to be unreliable and not 
in accord with the narratives and facts as given in all contempor- 
ary accounts." 

Which particular ^^Icmphians our good friend intends to de- 
scribe by the adjective "some" in this paragraph is not made clear, 
but playfully, we with equal freedom are willing to admit that 
there are about, say, 100,000 of the class described now living on 
the lower Chickasaw BlulT, and they are as jealous as the abor- 

•Reply to the foreg-oing- paper by Judge J. P. Young-, Circuit Judge of 
Shelby county, Tennessee. 


150 Mississippi Historical Society. 

iginal Chickasaw would have been of this invasion of their be- 
loved title to a distinction justly belonging to them. 

But, seriously, let us examine the article of Dr. Rowland, who 
is a man of great learning and high repute, and carefully weigh 
his claim that we have fallen into a great historical error in ac- 
cepting a tradition or legend as a truth. The writer is himself a 
native of ^lississippi, though a citizen by adoption of Tennessee 
for more than half a century, and would not wantonly remove 
one olive leaf from the brow of his mother state. Xo historian 
or investigator, however, has any proprietorship in the history of 
any place or era. He cannot even be original in history, except 
in rare instances, perhaps, in treating of contemporary events of 
which he has had personal observations, but is limited to weigh- 
ing and comparing the writings of others in order to reach the 

In the article referred to Dr. Rowland lays down these postu- 
lates as the basis of his attacks on the "cherished traditions" of 

First — That there are only four sources of information as to 
the journey of DeSoto, viz.: The ''Narrative of the Gentleman 
of Elvas," ''the largest and one of the most accurate" ; the nar- 
rative of Louis Hernando de Biedma, the factor of the expedi- 
tion, "which is highly colored and unreliable"; the "History of 
Hernando De Soto and Florida," by Garcilaso de Vega, "the In- 
ca," "which is the least trustworthy," and the olticial report of the 
expedition which Rodrigo Ranjel, the secretary of DeSoto, drew 
up from his diary, and which "is accepted as the standard and 
best account." He gives Dr. Edward Gaylord Bourne of Yale 
as his authority for these estimates. 

Second — To quote: "My contention is that the Mississippi was 
discovered in Tunica County, ^liss., at Willow Point, which the 
map of De ITsle. made in 1718, places about 30 miles in a 
straight line below Memphis, in Tunica County. Not a map, 
so far as I know, gives Memphis the honor of being the point at 
which the Mississippi v,as discovered." 

Third — Dr. Rowland refers to the article of Theodore Hayes 
Lewis, appearing in "Publications of the Mississippi Historical 

DeSoto at Chickasaw Bluffs — Youtig. 151 

Society." Vol. VI, in 1902, as ''the most painstaking and accurate 
study of the route of DeSoto," and quotes him as saying of the 
march of DeSoto from the Tallahatchie River at or near New 
Albany, Miss., to the }^Iississippi River: 

''The army left this inclosed place (an Indian fort, Alibamo, 
where there was a battle), turning to the westward. According 
to Elvas the country they were now passing through was a wild- 
erness of thick forests, having many marshy places that were 
fordable and some basins and lakes (sluggish streams) that were 
not. In another place, he says, the land was low, abounding in 
lakes. Ranjel says they passed over bad roads leading through 
woods and swamps. This part of the route lay wholly within the 
State of Mississippi, for had it been towards Memphis they would 
have passed through a hilly region instead of one of swamps. 
* * * At noon on Sunday, May 8, they arrived at the first 
town in Quisquis and carried it by sudden assault. * * * 
The crossing was made either at Council Bend or Walnut Bend, 
in Tunica County, in a straight line some 25 to 38 miles below 
Memphis. De Tlsle (1T18) seems to have been the first geog- 
rapher to attempt to map the route and he places the crossing at 
Pointe de Oziers (Willow Point), but the place cannot be iden- 
tified. D'Anville (1755) shows Point d'Oziers plainly enough as 
•.being about half way between the mouths of the St. Francis and 
White rivers ; but this is too far down. * * * j ^g Memphis 
theory of the location of Quisquiz and the crossing which is based 
upon the Inca's account, is untenable, and a fair analysis or re- 
view of his statements will show that neither the town nor the 
crossing was located at that point." 

Fourth — The scholarly study of Mr. Lewis was pubhshed in 
1902 and no historian has thought it wise to question his conclu- 

Fifth — iNIy purpose in presenting this question is to correct 
what I believe to be an error, which has almost become an ac- 
cepted fact among some well informed, intelligent people. If I 
am depriving the great and prosperous City of Memphis of one of 
her most cherished traditions, let me assure her people that I do 
so with regret. 

152 Mississippi Historical Scx:iety. 

To rapidly review the foregoing* conclusions of Dr. Rowland, 
reference will first be simply made to his estimate of the nature 
of the several narratives of the DeSoto chroniclers, the authority 
for which is given as Prof. Edward Gaylord Bourne of Yale. We 
do not find in Prof. Bourne's introduction any statement that the 
narrative of Biedma is ''highly colored and unreliable," but he 
does say that "Biedma's Relation possesses the important advant- 
age of being the official report of a king's officer; but it is brief 
and is given as a whole with comparatively few details, except as 
to directions and distances." 

Of the History of Plorido and DeSoto by Garcilaso de la Vega, 
Prof. Bourne, after reviewing the work of the Portuguese gentle- 
man, says, ''Next in order of publication and equal in fame comes 
'La Florida del Inca.' " And in another place writes : "In mak- 
ing another (narrative of DeSoto), a descendant of the Incas of 
Peru transmitted the tale of hardships and meetings with the 
Indians, friendly and hostile, into an old romance of chivalry — 
the first and certainly the most celebrated one dealing with an 
American theme — in which a groundwork of fact is richly em- 
broidered by the author's imagination, with romantic details, into 
a whole so full of charm as to have beguiled even professed his- 

Much has been written by critics to disparage the Inca's narra- 
tive, because out of harmony with the other three narrators in ad- 
ding details and incidents not referred to by the latter. It seems 
reasonable to suppose, however, that these differences arose, as 
S'milar phenomena have arisen in our own day, in the frequent 
and truthful sidelights thrown upon the stories of the battles and 
marches of the Civil War in the incidents related by the survivors, 
which do no[ appear in the official reports of the commanders, or 
in the official army itineraries kept by the stafiF officers. Garcilaso 
was not present with DeSoto, nor were his modern critics. But 
Garcilaso had the acquaintanceship of several survivors and his 
critics have nothing but the official reports and diaries. For in- 
stance, Garcilaso says : "The Spaniards departed from the en- 
campment of Alibamo (on the Tallahatchie River), still march- 
ing towards the north to avoid the sea." Theodore Hayes Lewis 

DeSoto at Chickasaw Bluffs — Young. 153 

says : "On Saturday, April 30, the army left this inclosed place, 
turning to the westward." The first course would take DeSoto 
towards the lower Chickasaw Bluff. The latter would take him 
to the Mississippi in the vicinity of Moon Lake, in Coahoma 
County, Miss. Garcilaso had in this instance the statement of 
survivors. ^Ir. Lewis had no guide whatever, as the other three 
narrators do not mention the direction of the march. Lei us as 
historians be fair in this inquiry. 

Taking up next the second postulate of Dr. Rowland, as noted 
above, viz : "^^ly contention is that the Mississ"ppi River was dis- 
covered in Tunica County, Miss., at Willow^ Point, which the 
Map de ITsle made in 1718 places about 30 miles in a straight 
line below Memphis, in Tunica County." This must be an inad- 
vertance on the part of Dr. Rowland. The map of De ITsle 
CAmsterdam edition, 1707, but the same as above referred to) 
shows clearly the assumed route of DeSoto, and places the cross- 
ing at Pointe de Oziers (Willow Point), midway between the 
mouth of the Arkansas River and Lac des Michigamea, adjoining 
the mouth of St. Francis River and 80 miles in a straight line be- 
low Memphis instead of in Tunica County, 30 miles below, as 
claimed by Dr. Rowland. In addition to this, the writer has 
before him the map of Lieut. Ross of the British army, ''taken 
on an expedition to tlie Illinois in the latter end of the year 17G5, 
improved from the survey of the river made by the French." 
This map places the crossing of DeSoto on the thirty-fourth par- 
allel about live miles below "Oziers Point," which on this map 
is about midway between the mouths of the St. Francis and Ar- 
kansas rivers. But tliese old French and English maps are not 
reliable guides, as the cartographers had less information from 
the DeSoto narratives than is now available and infiniiely less 
knowledge of the country tlirough which DeSoto marched than 
the school boy of today. 

And, referring next to the third contention of Dr. Rowland, in 
which he quotes so fully and approves the study of Theodore H. 
Lewis of DeSoto's march from the Tallaliatchie River to the 
Mississippi River at "Council Bend," or at "Walnut Bend," in 
Tunica County, iMiss., as set out above. Mr. Lewis argues from 

154 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the character and topography of the country between Ahbamo 
and Council Bend, as compared with tliat between the same point 
and Memphis, as described by tlie narrators in the DeSoto nar- 
ratives, that the former was swampy and the latter high and hilly. 
In this Dr. Rowland is perhaps again not fortunate. The writ- 
er has passed over boih routes several times, and they are prac- 
tically identical if the route lay north of tlie Tallahatchie Swamps, 
in topographic characteristics and elevations, except the last 12 
or 15 miles of approach to Council Bend and Walnut Bend, 
which is in the alluvial basin of the delta, so-called, and is fiat and 

Finally, on this subject, in his fourth contention, Dr. Rowland 

"The scholarly study of Mr. Lewis was published in 1902 and 
no historian has thought it wise to question his conclusions." 

Perhaps not more than one history, written since 1902, has 
questioned his conclusions. But among historians writing before 
1902 many noted ones have taken a different view and arrived at 
opposite conclusions as to DeSoto's point of crossing the great 
river. Bancroft says, volume 1, page 51, he crossed ''probably 
at the lowest Qiickasaw Bluff, not far from 35 parallel of lati- 
tude." John Gilmary Shea, writing in and for Winsor's Narra- 
tive and Critical History of America, volume 2, page 291, states : 
"As to the point of DeSoto crossing the Mississippi, there is a 
very general agreement on the lowest Chickasaw Bluff." 

The great ^lississippi historian, J. F. H. Claiborne, in his ^lis- 
sissippi As a Territory and State, volume 1, page 8, thus describes 
the discovery : 

"Still shaping his course to the northwest, he struck the great 
river at the lower Cliickasaw Bluff, just below old Fort Picker- 
ing, in May, 1541. Any route from the Chickasaw Old Fields 
south of the one assumed would have carried him into the im- 
penetrable swamps of the Yalobusha and Tallahatchie and their 
tributaries, where there were no paths and no footing for men 
or horses." 

J. G. M. Ramsey, the Tennessee historian, in the Annals of 
Tennessee, 1853, writes: 


DeSoto at Chickasaw Bluffs — Voting. 155 

**It is generally conjectured that Chisca, the village near which 
DeSoto was encamped, and which bore the name of the chieftain 
of the province through whose territories the Spaniards were 
passing, occupied the site of the present thriving City of Mem- 
phis, and that the point where they crossed the Mississippi was 
near the Chicasaw Bluff." 

J. M. Keating, in his history of Memphis, 1888, describes the 
approach of DeSoto to the mighty river thus: 

''They entered the village of Chisca near the high mound which 
overlooks the great river, where it divides to flow southward on 
either side of what is known as President's Island." 

Another similar view of DeSoto's approach to the Mississippi 
River at Memphis is expressed in Young's History of Memphis, 
1912, in these words : 

"Comparing these four narratives (Elvas', Biedma's, Ranjel's 
and Riclielet's version of Garcilaso, given in full in the text, of 
the march from the Tallahatchie River), which are in peculiar 
agreement with each other, except the last, it can readily be seen 
that Ranjel, in speaking of the villages a league apart to which 
the Spaniards moved in turn for the purpose of obtaining pro- 
visions, was merely describing the usual group of villages which 
went to make up a settlement among these Indians, such as the 
Spaniards found in the Chickasaw towns in Pontotoc County, 
Mississippi, and in no way contradicts the other narratives. The 
fact seems to be that DeSoto came upon the town of Chisca, 
where the great mound was and still remains, which was near 
the wide river with a forest between, and then, without reaching 
the river, he moved from village to village on the bluff' for more 
convenient access to corn or maize, by which his army was sup- 
ported, and finally pitched his camp under the bluff at the foot of 
a ravine, probably near the mouth of Wolf River and w'ithin 
crossbow shot of the water, where he constructed and launched 
his boats." 

We can, in conclusion, question the statement of Dr. Rowland 
that the views of **some Meuiphians as to the place of discovery 
and crossing of the Mississippi" has been based no doubt on 
the narrative of Garcilaso de la Vega, the Inca, which careful 

156 Mississippi Historical Society. 

and complete investigation has shown to be unreliable and not in 
accord with the narrative and facts as given in all contemporary 

There are but two facts mentioned in Garcilaso's narrative 
which aid effectively in locating Memphis as the site of the vil- 
lage of Chisca, or Quizquiz, as some wrote it, where DeSoto first 
found the river. 

These are, first, 'That Spaniards departed from the encamp- 
ment of Alibamo, still marching towards the north to avoid the 
sea," as translated by Irving; or, "The Spaniards, in leaving Ali- 
bamo, marched across a waste country, bearing always towards 
the north in order to get further away from the sea," as rendered 
by Richelet, and second, that Chisca, the chief, lived on "a high 
mound which commanded a view of the whole place." There are 
merely details added to the other three narratives and in no way 
contradict them. John G. Shea, in his chapter on Ancient Flor- 
ida, written for Winsor's history, above referred to, says on page 
290, volume VI : "The spirit of exaggeration which pervades 
throughout this volume (Garcilaso's narrative) has deprived it 
of esteem as an historical authority, though Theodore Irving and 
others have accepted it." But on the next page, 291, he says : "As 
to the point of De Soto's crossing the Mississippi there is a very 
general agreement on the lowest Chickasaw bluff." 

Tliere is another most persuasive fact well established by many 
writers which points to Memphis as the point of De Soto's cross- 
ing, viz., that an ancient trail existed from the lower Chickasaw 
bluff, southeastward to the Chickasaw old fields and from there 
it is traced still southeastward, by Claiborne, to the Choctaw 
crossing of the Tombigbce at Lincacums Shoals, just above the 
mouth of Tibbee Creek, and along which it is generally agreed 
that DeSoto marched to Chickasaw in December, 1540. It was 
this trail he followed to the Chickasaw Bluff, as Gaiborne con- 
tends. The Portuguese narrative states, in describing the march 
to Alibamo fort that the army liad to pass a desert seven days' 
journey in extent, and men were sent out to hunt for maize for 
the journey, and that "Juan de Anasco, the comptroller, went with 
15 horses and 40 foot on the course the "governor would have to 


DcSoto at Chickasaw Bluffs — Young. 157 

march and found a staked fort where the Indians were awaiting 
them." This fort, Ahbamo, was at Rocky Ford, on a high hill 
overlooking the Tallahatchie River, and in almost an airline from 
the Village of Chicacilla. De Soto began his long march to the 
lower Oiickasaw bluff along the famous Qiickasaw trail to the 
bluffs above mentioned, and not manifestly along the route indi- 
cated by Mr. Lewis. 

In 1849 Frederick P. Stanton, the congressman from the Mem- 
phis district, was instrumental in having the celebrated painting 
of De Soto discovering the Mississippi River made for the na- 
tional capitol at Washington, and suggested the features of the 
picture to Powell, the artist. This was at the period when the 
march of DeSoto was being most widely discussed by the histor- 
ians and the public and the great historic painting was approved 
by the nation. 

This article has been written in reply to Dr. Rowland only to 
get at the truth of history so far as it sheds hght on the story of 
De Soto's discovery, and is confidently submitted to the discern- 
ing judgment of the public and in the broadest spirit of good will 
towards Dr. Rowland, the eminent and learned writer. We be- 
lieve that it plainly proves ihat the leading historians, except Dr. 
Theodore Lewis and his supporter, Dr. Rowland, have correctly 
placed the discovery and crossing at the lower Chickasaw bluffs, 
where Memphis now stands. 




By Dunbar Rowland, LL. D. 
Director Mississippi Department of Archives and History. 

The Commercial-Appeal of March 18th contains an answer by 
Judge J. P. Young to my article on the discovery of the Missis- 
sippi River by DeSoto, which appeared in the same paper of Feb- 
ruary 18th, in which he attempts to establish the contention that 
D'e Soto discovered and crossed the Mississippi River at Mem- 
phis. The issue is made, and is based on historical evidence. I 
accept it with pleasure, not only on account of Judge Young's 
high character, great ability, and gentlemanly courtesy in contro- 
versy, but because I am convinced that a full and fair study of 
the evidence, as contained in the records made by eye-wit- 
nesses and participants, and of the opinions of the best historians, 
-will establish the fact that De Soto discovered and crossed^ the 
Mississippi River within the 3ith parallel in Tunica County, Mis- 
sissippi, and not at ^Memphis, as contended by Judge Young. In 
making the claim for Tunica County, I unhesitatingly assume the 
burden of proof, which requires that my contention be established 
by a preponderance of the evidence. Let us carefully examine 
the original testimony. 


In the article of February 18th, referred to above, it was 
stated that : "The best evidence of all the incidents connected with 
the De Soto expedition is, of course, the written statements made 
at the time by accurate and truthful men who accompanied it, and 

•Rejoinder by the Editor. 


DeSoto Discovering the Mississippi — Rowland. 159 

such narratives only can be received by the conscientious and 
careful historian." The most rehable source of information is 
found in original records ; the most unreliable source is tradition, 
which is nothing more than hearsay evidence. The acceptance 
of the first source and the rejection of the last is the distinguish- 
ing characteristic of the scientific historian. Judge Young ap- 
plies these well known rules of evidence in the court over which 
he presides with learning, courtesy and dignity. If a litigant in 
His court, by his attorney, should attempt to introduce into the 
record of the case the same kind of hearsay and unsupported evi- 
dence which he introduces in support of his contention that De 
Soto discovered the Mississippi River at Memphis, it would be 
ruled out as soon as offered. I refer to his acceptance of au- 
thorities who wrote from hearsay and without special investiga- 

What is the original record evidence in the question under dis- 
cussion? Who made it, and when was it made? Did the authors 
making the records know the facts, and were they truthfully re- 
corded? These are important questions in arriving at a correct 
conclusion. In my first article, in dealing with the narratives of 
the expedition which have come down to us, I stated that they 
were four in number, that the best and most reliable was the ac- 
count of Rodrigo Ranjel, that the narrative of the Gentleman of 
Elvas was the longest and stood next in rank, that the account 
of Biedma was less reliable than the other two, and that the story 
of "The Inca" was unworthy of serious consideration, as it was 
founded on highly colored hearsay evidence. 

That accounts of the expedition should contain descriptions of 
the country through which it passed, is natural and to be expected, 
as next to the presence of the Indians the topography of the coun- 
try, its physical geography, flora, forests, streams, lakes, and high 
and low lands would attract the interest of the narrators. Such 
descriptions do occur in the narratives of Ranjel and Elvas. Since 
1541 the Indians have gone, their towns and villages are no 
more, and the forests have given place to cultivated fields, but 
the topography of the country through which De Soto and his 
men passed is the same today as it was then ; we have the same 

160 Mississippi Historical Society. I 

character of country now ; time has not changed the geological 
formations. North Mississippi from Pontotoc County, along the 
old Chickasaw Trail in a northwesterly direction to Chickasaw 
Bluffs, is the same hilly country today that it was in 1541, and 
West Mississippi, lying between the bluff formation which runs 
from Memphis to Satartia, Yazoo County, Miss., and the Mis- 
sissippi River, is the same low country abounding in streams, 
lakes and slashes as it did when De Soto passed over it on his way 
westward to the river. The route of the great explorer is written 
indisputably in the topographical features described by Ranjel 
and Elvas. It is common knowledge that the counties of Pon- 
totoc, Union, Marshall and De Soto, Mississippi, and Shelby 
County, Tennessee, through which the Chickasaw^ Trail ran, over 
which Judge Young contends that De Soto passed on his way to 
the Chickasaw Bluffs, is hilly throughout. Do Ranjel and Elvas 
describe the "vermilion hills" of North Mississippi, or the bottom 
lands of the Mississippi Delia? They say that from April 30th 
to May 8th, seven days, the expedition struggled through a wild- ; 

erness of forests, marshes, lakes and sluggish streams. Can | 

there be a reasonable doubt that the seven days preceding the dis- 
covery of the river, on May 8th, were passed in the low, marshy 
lands of the Mississippi Delta? Do the counties in North Mis- j 

sissippi, mentioned above, abound in lakes, basins, marshes and i 

sluggish streams? Can the wildest stretch of the imagination lead j 

us to believe that those seven days were spent on the well-trodden i 

trail of the Chickasaws, on the high lands and ridges of those i 

counties? It is not difficult to see why Judge Young touched 
so lightly on the topographical argument as given in my article of j 

February ISth. Elvas and Ranjel described conditions existing in i 

the section of Tunica County, between Coldwater River west to ! 

the Mississippi. j 

If the DeSoto expedition ever reached such a prominent point J 

as the Chickasaw Blulls, is it possible that the narratives would 
not mention such a height overlooking the great river? The fact ' 

that it was not mentioned seems conclusive that the place was \ 

never seen. \ 


DeSoto Discovering the Mississippi — Rowland. 161 


In my former article it was stated that : "Not a map, so far as 
I know, gives Memphis the honor of being the point at which 
the Mississippi was discovered." This of course was a direct re- 
quest for such evidence. It is fair to presume that inasmuch as 
Judge Young failed to name a map which supports his contention, 
the evidence is not available. Such evidence in support of my 
contention is abundant. Delisle's map has already been cited ; in 
addition to that citation, I call attention to the map of Dr. Mitch- 
elle as given in "De Soto and Florida," by Barnard Shipp, Page 
660; to that in Channing's ''History^ of the United States," Vol. L, 
Page 73 ; to Vol. IT., "Narratives of D^ Soto," at the title page, 
edited by Bourne; to "Spain in America," page 134, also by 
Bourne. These could be reinforced by many others, but it is not 
deemed necessary to give them, in the absence of evidence to the 
contrary. Next to facts obtained from first hand testimony, 
and the evidence given by the topography of the country, the facts 
gathered from maps are the most important and convincing. 
Geography is a science dealing with the earth and its life, and its 
findings of fact are most important in all historical investigations. 

JUDGE young's authorities. 

In the preparation of his article, Judge Young evidently felt 
the weakness of his case from the standpoint of the evidence con- 
tained in the original narratives of the expedition, and of maps 
fixing the place of the discovery and passage of the river, and he 
seems to rely more on the secondary evidence in the case as con- 
tained in the work of commentators, who had never specially in- 
vestigated the subject. In support of his contention, he quotes 
Bancroft, Shea, Ramsey, Claiborne, Keating and himself. Be- 
fore quoting aufhorities in support of my contention, it may be 
best to deal with his citations. Bancroft is quoted as saying, that 
De Soto "crossed probably at the lowest Chickasaw Bluff, not 
far from the 35th parallel of latitude." That is certainly not put- 
ting it very strong. Bancroft also says, "The search for soni^ 

162 Mississippi Historical Society. 

wealthy region was renewed; the caravan marched still further to 
the west. For seven days it struggled through a wilderness of 
forests and marshes ; and at length came to Indian settlements in 
the vicinity of the Mississippi." The Judge is not happy in quot- 
ing Bancroft for several reasons. In the first place, the word, 
"probably" is not quite convincing; then he describes the Missis- 
sippi Delta and not the "vermilion hills" of North Mississippi ; 
and says that the expedition "marched still further to the west," 
which is in conflict with the Judge's unqualified statement that 
the march was always to the northwest. Judge Young's greatest 
misfortune in quoting Bancroft lies in the fact that the eminent 
historian cites as authorities historians who disagree with him. 
He cites Belknap 1, — 192 who says De Soto crossed the river 
within the thirty-fourth degree ; Andrew Ellicott's Journal 125 
which gives the crossing place as "Thirty-four degrees and ten 
minutes"; McCullali's Researches 526, "Twenty or thirty miles 
below^ the mouth of the Arkansas River." As ]Memphis lies well 
above the 35th parallel it is readily seen that the citations are 
against it. The same comment applies to John Gilmary Shea. 
The position of Claiborne is disposed of in that portion of this 
article which gives the topographical evidence. As Ramsey, the 
Tennessee historian, only conjectures that Memphis was the place 
of discovery and crossing, such a statement carries little weight. 
Col. J. M. Keating in his history of Memphis says that the Vil- 
lage of Chisca was on the river; this is in direct conflict with nar- 
ratives and maps, and the same may be said of Young's History 
of Memphis. These are all the authorities quoted by Judge 


While I do not attach the same importance to the opinions of 
commentators, (which is only secondary evidence) as I do to 
the primary sources of information such as the original narratives 
and topography, I am at the same time entirely willing to meet 
my worthy and learned friend in that field also, and I shall now 
cite certain eminent authorities whose findings are not in accord 
with the Memphis theory. 


DeSoto Discovering the Mississippi — Rowland. 163 

One of the first eminent historians who wrote the history of 
the Mississippi Valley was Dr. John \V. Monette, and while his 
two- volume work, entitled ''Monette's Valley of the Mississippi," 
was published in 1846, it has never been superseded as the 
standard work on the subjects with which it deals, by any later 
history. In treating of the subject under discussion, he says, 
(Vol. L, Page 47) ''Much doubt and uncertainty has obtained as 
to the precise point at which De Soto reached the Mississippi. It 
was evidently much below the latitude of ^lemphis, where he 
was toiling four days in advancing twelve leagues up the river, 
and seven days in his westward march through swamps and deep 
forests, from the up-lands east of the Tallahatchee. At no point 
above Helena are the highlands, on the east side of the river, 
more than ten or fifteen miles distant. The point where De Soto 
crossed the river was probably within thirty miles of Helena. 
The changes of the channel in the lapse of three hundred years 
may have been such as to defy identification now.'' Harper's 
Encyclopedia of United States History says, (Vol. HI., Page 
106) ''Turning northward with the remnant of his forces, he 
fought his way through the Chickasaw country, and reached the 
upper waters of the Yazoo River late in December, where he 
wintered in great distress. Moving westward in the spring, he 
discovered the Mississippi River in all its grandeur in ^lay, 1541. 
It was near the lower Chickasaw Bluff in Tunica County, ]vlissis- 
sippi." In the history of the United States by Dr. Edward Chan- 
ning, Professor of History in Harvard University, (Vol. L, Page 
73), a map is given which fixes the place of discovery about 20 
miles below the 35th parallel in Tunica County. These works' 
have both been issued since the painstaking and scholarly study 
of the DeSoto route of Professor Theodore Playes Lewis, quoted 
in my first article. In Larned's "History for Ready Reference." 
(Vol. II, Page 1178) it is stated that "At length, in the third year 
of their journeying, they reached the banks of the Mississippi, 
132 years before its second (or third?) discovery by Marquette 
* * * The Spaniards passed over to a point above the mouth 
of the Arkansas." Dr. Edward Gaylord Bourne in his "Spain in 
America," gives a map at page 134, which places the crossing in 

164 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Tunica County, Mississippi. Belknap and EUicott, referred to 
above, place the passage and discovery within the 31th parallel. 
And finally, Professor Lewis, in his study of every phase of the 
subject and every mile of the route as given in the publications 
of the Mississippi Historical Society, (Vol. VI., Pages 449 — 1G7), 
quoted at length in a former paper, fixes the discovery at Willow 
Point, in Tunica County, Mississippi. And let me repeat my as- 
sertion that the open-minded investigator cannot study his won- 
derful presentation of the subject without complete agreement 
with his conclusions. 

I believe that it is not over-stating the case to claim that the 
following contentions have been established by this and my first 

First: That the best evidence of the De Soto route estab- 
lishes the fact that, from April 30 to May 8, 1541, it was through 
the low lands of the Mississippi Delta and not through the high 
lands of North IMississippi and West Tennessee. 

Second: That the topography of the country, as described 
in the narratives up to the very day of the discovery of the river, 
confirms the contention that it was made in the midst of a low 
country, abounding in marshes, lakes and sluggish streams. 

Third: That the maps of the route of De Soto all give the 
point of the discovery and crossing within the 34th parallel. 

Fourth: That the best and most accurate commentators on 
the subject place the point of discovery and crossing between the 
mouth of the Arkansas River and the 35th parallel. 

Fifth: That the preponderence of evidence gathered from 
both original and secondary sources, establishes the contention 
that Tunica County, Mississippi, was the scene of the discovery 
and crossing of the Mississippi River, May 8, 1541, by Her- 
nando De Soto. 



By J. S. McNeily. 

"A redder sea than Egypt's wave, 
Was piled and parted for the slave, 
A darker cloud moved on in light, 
A fiercer fire was guide by night." 


The events of Southern reconstruction constitute a distinct 
and memorable era of history. The irrepressible conflict be- 
tween the free and the slave holding sections had blazed forth 
after a half a century of brooding storm in four years of bloody 
and relentless war. How the South had contended with the 
vastly superior forces of coercion, impartial historians have told. 
The culmination of the issue and the end are thus clearly and 
concisely summed up by a noted historian. Dr. Von Holtz : "The 
South had stood still, while the rest of the country had under- 
gone vast changes; and remaining still she had retained the old 
principles that had once been universal. Both she and her prin- 
ciples, it turned out, were caught at last in the great national 
drift. Her stored up economic resources were no match for the 
mighty strength of the nation with which she had fallen out of 
sympathy. There is in history no devotion, not religious, no 
constancy not meant for success, that can furnish a parallel to 
the devotion and the constancy of the South in this extraordin- 
ary war." The war had passed, leaving the South laid low in 
defeat — agonized and devastated. And then there rose up a se- 
verer test, a more trying ordeal, than war. 


166 Mississippi Historical Scxriety. 

The terms of readmission to her former position in thq 
Union imposed on the South were debasing to American 
citizenship, a perversion of the government as ordained by the 
fathers, destructive of social order and civilization and to the 
last degree revolting to pride of race and cherished popular tra- 
ditions. True to themselves and their trusts, with spirits un- 
subdued by conquest and threats, and unseduced by pleas of 
expediency that would have lowered character for temporal good 
and gain, the people opposed the odius and revolting laws to the 
limit of their powers, through peaceable means. In the resist- 
ance of the forces of the government exerted to abase them 
under the rule of black men, in adherence to their principles and 
fortitude in endurance of shameful wrongs, there is, indeed, no 
other story comparable to the record of the Southern people. 
It is for testimony of the truth of this claim that this history of 
reconstruction in Mississippi has been undertaken. It goes forth 
under no pretense of divestiture of sectional sentiment. It is 
written from the Southern viewpoint by a Southern man — one 
who was actively, if not conspicuously, engaged with the history 
making of the period. The central purpose of the work, is to 
secure a just appreciation of the leaders and the people of the 
reconstruction years — the base and tyrannical infliction they 
bore, the severe and manifold trials and wrongs, from which 
they have emerged victorious. To make all this clear to the 
succeeding generations of their countrymen, to vindicate their 
judgment and patriotic purposes from misconstruction and de- 
rogation, the facts carefully gleaned from the contemporary 
chronicles, is the aim and argument of the author. 


This contribution to a volume of the State Historical Society 
has been preceded by others dealing with that period of state 
History commonly known as the Reconstruction Era, and con- 
nected antecedent events of the last years of the war. It is much 
regretted that the previous chapters have not appeared in chron- 
ological order. The first to be published — a sketch of the an- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 1G7 

nullment of the negro suffrage status imposed by the reconstruc- 
tion laws, and the war amendments of the U. S. constitution, 
by the state constitutional convention of 1890 — was the last in 
point of time to occur. It was contained in Volume VI. of the 
Historical Society series. The next was under the title of ''The 
Enforcement Act of 1S71 and the Ku KIux Klan in Mississippi," 
in Volume IX. This was followed in Volume XII, by "Climax 
and Collapse of Reconstruction in Mississippi," embracing the 
years 1874-1876. The next of the cliapters told the story from 
18G5 to 1868 — from "Organization to Overthrow of the 
State's Provisional Government." The present contribution fills 
out the gaps, and completes the story. It begins with the eman- 
cipation proclamation and the order for enlistment of negro 
soldiers, in the early days of 18G3 ; opening co-incideniaiiy with 
the campaign that was concluded in the fail of V'icksburg and 
the re-opening to trade and commerce of the Mississippi river. 
As President Lincoln said with dramatic portent when that death 
blow to the Confederacy was announced : "The Father of 
Waters again flows unvexed to the sea." Appreciated commend- 
ation of preceding chapters upon Mississippi reconstruction his- 
tory stimulates the hope of some day, pubhshing the entire series 
of contributions to the volumes of the State Historical Society, 
in book form. 

From the beginning of the w^ar until achieved, recovery of the 
Mississippi river was held by the Washington government of 
equally vital military consequence and consideration with the de- 
fense of Washington. Due to limited resources in men and 
equipment partly, and partly to confidence in the impregnability 
of points that had been fortified, wh'.ch had been seemingly vin- 
dicated in the easy repulse of the first attempts on Vicksburg, 
concerted and adequate means of defense had not been provided. 
Here the first mortal wound was inflicted upon the Southern Con- 
federacy in the conquest of the Mississippi river. Unlike dis- 
asters elsewhere it was hopelessly irretrcv'able. While on other 
fields the tide of war ebbed and flowed, the loss of that vital 
point of vantage was final. It was doubly calamitous, for in the 
occupation of the lower river a limited but invaluable supply of 

168 Mississippi Historical Society. 

cotton was procured for the New England mills ; and nearly two 
hundred thousand black soldiers were enlisted. Probably as 
many more army and navy employees, each one relieving a white 
recruit for the battle line, were secured. Previous to the fall of 
Vicksburg, and the occupation of the lower valley, the emanci- 
pation proclamation had been looked on by the large slavehold- 
ers, and the small ones, with derision, as a vain threat. When 
it materialized at their doors, a genuine despondency spread over 
the land. 

The blow inflicted on the South in the reopening of the river 
was doubled,- in the inspiriting effect it had upon the Western 
people. Railroad development was scarcely emerged from its 
infancy, when that powerful and opulent section was deprived 
of an avenue and means of trade that Vvas felt to be an incalcu- 
lable and an intolerable loss. It was in a plea to "a great Union 
meeting," for holding up his arms in the prosecution of the war, 
that President Lincoln sententiously announced the fall of Vicks- 
burg and the conquest of the Mississippi by the Union armies 
and fleets, in the words above quoted. While the blow fell heav- 
ily on the Southern Confederacy, it descended as the knell of 
doom on the valley people. The extent of the calamity was 
probably more fully comprehended at Washington than at Rich- 
mond, for ''the Father of Waters to flow unvexed to the sea" 
meant little in the Eastern states of the Confederacy by compari- 
son with the consequence attached to it in the west and north- 
west. To them it represented the true casus belli. And not even 
the fall of Richmond would have been so gladly hailed as that 
the Union forces held the river and its fortresses clear to the 
Gulf. Planning for the campaign which consummated this great 
purpose, Gen. Halleck, President Lincoln's military adviser and 
the titular commander in chief of the Lmion armies, in the fall 
of 1862 wrote Gen. N. P. Banks, who had succeeded Butler in 
command of the Department of the Gulf: 'The President re- 
gards the opening of the iMississippi river as the most important 
of all our military operations." iHe specified the two main ob- 
jects of the two annies, Grant's operating down the river from 
Memphis, and Banks' up from New Orleans, in cooperation with 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 169 

the fleets of Admirals Farragut and Porter. These were the cap- 
ture of Vicksburg and the possession of the Red river; the forti- 
fications at Port Hudson being the key to the latter. 

More than the mere occupation of the country by a hostile 
force, it was the effect of these two disasters — arming the slaves 
and trading in cotton — that cast a blight over the spirit of the 
people. They combined to appall and corrupt. Hitherto, the 
Lincoln administration had resisted the importunities and temp- 
tations of arming the slaves. Even tenders of free negro soldiers 
were declined during the first year of hostilities. A regiment of 
negroes raised by Gen. David Hunter, commanding the Union 
forces on the South Carolina coast, was made the subject of a 
congressional resolution of enquiry. Fearful of the effect on 
sentiment, especially of the border states, this action was dis- 
avowed and the organization disbanded. There was a strong, 
at/that period a predominant, party in the North that still looked 
to a restoration of the Union with slavery. That idea was sus- 
tained by President Lincoln's declaration, that if the Union could 
be saved with slavery preserved, he would thus save it. Not 
until the war was more than a year old was the emancipation 
policy seriously entertained. The flocking of the negro runaways 
and refugees to the camps was an embarrassment that led to 
an act of congress, July 17, 18G2, authorizing the President ''to 
make provision for transportation and colonization or settlement 
in some tropical country beyond the limits of the United States, 
of negroes escaped from slavery as may be willing to emigrate." 
In his message of December, 18G2, President Lincoln referring 
to "such colonization as contemplated by act of congress," said 
"several of the South American republics have protested against 
the sending of such colonies to their respective territories. . . . 
I have oft'ered to the several states situated within the tropics 
to negotiate with them to favor the voluntary emigration of 
persons of that class to their respective territories. Liberia and 
Hayti are as yet the only countries to which colonists of Afri- 
can descent from here could go with certainty of being received 
as citizens, and I regret to say such persons contemplating col- 
onization do not seem so willing to migrate nor so willing as I 

> vr:T 

170 Mississippi Historical Society. 

think their interest demands. I believe, however, opinion among 
them in this respect is improvinj^, and ere long there will 
be an augmented and considerable emigration to both those 
countries from the United States." A communication from Gen. 
Grant at Holly Springs, to Gen. Halleck, at Washington, Janu- 
ary 6th, 18G3, is quoted : ''Contraband question becoming a seri- 
ous one. What shall I do with surplus negroes? I authorized 
an Ohio philanthropist a few days ago to take all were at 
Columbus, Kentucky, to his state at government expen-e. Would 
like to dispose of more same way.'' The problem of disposing 
of the "surplus negroes" was shared by all the Union army com- 
manders to a greater or less degree at this period of the war. 

The impression in the South, based on such evidence, of the 
attitude of the government at Washington toward die slave, that 
after the war had run its course there could be a settlement pre- 
serving slavery, was not without a reassuring influence ; espe- 
cially in the sections of large negro population. This w^as most 
unfortunate, for it was wholly deceptive. In its nature the war 
was one to be fought to a finish. As it progressed, as the exac- 
tions of blood and treasure grew heavier, the purely military 
policy could but sweep away mitigating sentiment and rule ev- 
erything. Thus it came about that the course of the war as re- 
lated to the slaves and slavery radically changed — that the ad- 
ministration moved up to the position of the extremists who had 
from the beginning contended for an emancipation proclama- 
tion. This consummated, in January, 18G3, the decision for arm- 
ing the slaves, for fully utilizing them in bringing the war to a 
close was adopted and acted upon. The policy was looked on 
as a risky and dubious one at first. True Gen. Butler had se- 
cured the President's authority even before the emancipation 
proclamation to raise two regiments of "colored mien" — the 
"darkest of whom" as Butler wrote the war departmicnt, "was 
about the color of the late Daniel Webster." In the fall of 1862 
they had formed part of a force operating in Southwest Louis- 
iana and commanded by Gen. Godfrey Weitzel. He declined 
the command November 11th, 1862, in a communication to Gen. 
Butler, which is quoted : "The reason I must decline is because 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily, 171 

accepting the command would place mc in command of all the 
troops in the district. I cannot command those negro regiments. 
The commanding general knows well my private opinion on this 
subject. What I stated to him privately, while on his staff I see 
now before my eyes. Since the arrival of the negro regiments 
symptoms of servile insurrection are becoming apparent, I can- 
not assume the command of such a force and thus be responsible 
for its conduct. I have no confidence in the organization. Its 
moral effect in this community which is stripped of nearly all 
its able bodied men is terrible. Women and children are in ter- 
ror. It is heart rending and I cannot make myself responsible 
for it. I will gladly go anywhere with my own brigade that you 
see fit to order me. I beg you therefore to keep the negro bri- 
gade directly under your own command." 

The time had now come when it was decided to put aside, or 
quell, such scruples as Gen. Weitzel entertained and which had 
animated the Union generals and soldiers generally, heretofore. 
Both army and civilian instinct, or prejudice, against black 
troops was to be overcome. But the plunge once taken, all ob- 
jection and obstacle disappeared. No more was needed, in fact, 
in the then doubtful war outlook, than to show its imperative 
necessity. Very shrewdly, the first step taken was to convince 
the army. March 23, 1863, the adjutant general of the army, 
Lorenso Thomas, received instructions from Secretary of War 
Stanton to visit the army operating under Gen. Grant, in the 
Mississippi valley. The matter of main importance entrusted 
to him was stated in the following passage: 

"The President desires that you should confer freely with 
Maj. Gen, Grant, and the ofiicers with whom you have conver- 
sation and explain to them the importance attached by the gov- 
ernment to the use of the colored population emancipated by the 
President's proclamation, and particularly for the organization 
of their labor and military strength. You will cause it to be 
understood that no officer in the United States service is re- 
garded as in the discharge of his duties under the acts of con- 
gress, the President's proclamation and the orders of this de- 
partment, who fails to employ to tlie utmost extent, the aid and 

172 Mississippi Historical Society. 

cooperation of the loyal colored population in performinpf the 
labor ip^* lent to military operations and in performing the duties 
of sola ers under proper organization, and that any obstacle 
thrown in the way of these ends is regarded by the President 
as a violation of acts of congress and the declared purposes of 
the government in using every means to bring the war to an end. 
You will ascertain what military officers are willing to take com- 
mand of colored troops and if troops can be raised and organized 
you will so far as can be done withouit prejudice to the service 
retire officers and privates from the service in which they are 
engaged to receive commissions in the brigades, regiments and 
companies of colored troops ; and to organize such troops for 
military service to the utmost extent to which they can be ob- 
tained in accordance with the rules and regulations of the serv- 

In a subsequent report to the secretary of war upon this mis- 
sion Gen. Thomas said : "You undoubtedly recollect that the de- 
termination to send me on this duty (the organization of colored 
troops) was a sudden one, and the purpose was only unfolded 
to me prior to the date of the instructions and you urged ex- 
pedition in the matter. The subject was new to me and I entered 
on the duty by no means certain of what I would be able to 
effect. . . . The prejudice against colored troops was quite 
general and it required in the first instance all of my eftorts to 
combat it. ... I found the treatment of the blacks varied 
very materially at the dift'erent military stations, some command- 
ers received them gladly, others indifferently, whilst in very 
many cases they w^ere refused admission within our lines. This 
resulted from the fact that no policy in regard to them (the 
blacks) had been made known. But as soon as I had announced 
by your authority the views of the President and yourself all 
opposition to their reception ceased." 

At the same time orders were issued to Gen. Banks at New 
Orleans, to immediately raise a large military force from the 
colored population of Louisiana. There had been several regi- 
ments enlisted in that department, shortly before the formal an- 
nouncement by Adjutant General Thomas of the policy determ- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 173 

incd upon. The great expectation from arming the negroes is 
evidenced in the following letter from President Lincoln to Gov- 
ernor Andrew Johnson, March 2Gth, 18G3 : **I am told you have 
at last thought of raising a negro military force. In my opinion 
the country now needs no specific thing so much as some man 
of your ability and position, an eminent citizen of a slave state 
and a .slave holder himself, to go to this work. The colored 
population is the great available and yet unavailed of force for 
restoring the Union. The bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled 
black soldiers upon the banks of the Mississippi would end the 
rebellion at once.'.' 

General in Chief Halleck, the President's personal military 
adviser, wrote Gen. Grant March 31 : 'Tt is the policy of the 
government to v/ithdraw^ from the enemy as much productive 
labor as possible. So long as the Rebels retain and employ their 
slaves in producing grain, etc., they can employ all the whites 
in the field. Every slave withdrawn from the enemy is equiva- 
lent to a white man put hors de combat. Again, it is the policy 
of the government to use the negroes as far as practicable as a 
military force for defense of forts, depots, etc. They certainly 
can be used with advantage as laborers, teamsters, cooks, etc., 
and it is the opinion of many that they will do as a military force. 
. . . It is expected that you will use your official and personal j 

influence to remove prejudice of this character. . . . The ! 

character of the w^ar has very much changed the last year. There ■ 

is now no possible hope of reconciliation with the Rebels. We I 

must conquer or be conquered by them. This is the phase the 
rebellion has now assumed. We must take things as they are. 
The government has adopted a policy and w^e must faithfully j 

carry it out." W^riting to Secretary of War Stanton from lie- j 

lena April 6th, 18G3, Gen. L. Thomas said: "I addressed T.OOO j 

troops today and the policy respecting arming the black man was j 

most enthusiastically received. Gens. Prentiss, Washburn and j 

Hovey made speeches in high commendation. It has inspired ! 

new life into the troops and they say now they see that the re- i, 

bellion will be crushed. . . . Gen. Hurlburt says his corps \ 

will give the policy of arming the blacks their support, especially j 

,•.;:. ^■'■;. Vs' 

174 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the rcg-iments that have been in battle." Other addresses to the 
soldiers were reported, who received the announcement "with 
great enthusiasm." At Lake Providence, being- followed by Gen. 
Jno. A. Logan. Gen. Thomas wrote: "lie not only fully indorsed 
my own remarks but went far beyond them." From ^Milliken's 
Bend, where Gen. Grant's main force was camped, he wrote, 
*'the predjudice in the army respecting arming the negroes is 
fast wearing out. I send by mail plan for occupying abandoned 

April 11th Gen. Grant, at Milliken's Bend wrote Gen. Steele 
at Greenville : **A11 negroes you have you will provide for wdiere 
they are, issuing to them rations until other disposition is made 
of them. You will encourage all negroes, particularly middle 
aged males, to come within our lines. Gen. L. Thomas is now 
here with authority to make ample provision for the negro." 
After Vicksburg was taken the inflow of negroes to the Federal 
camps was greatly swelled. August 9th President Lincoln w^rote 
Gen. Grant: "Adjutant General Thomas has again gone to the 
Mississippi valley with the view of raising colored troops. I 
have no reason to doubt that you are doing what you can upon 
the same subject. I believe it is a resource which, if vigilantly 
applied now, will soon close the contest. It w^orks doubly — 
weakening the enemy and strengthening us. We were not fully 
ripe for it until the river was opened. Now I think at least 
100,000 ought to be organized along its shores returning all the 
white troops to serve elsewhere." In fact a total of 186,000 
negroes were enlisted from the slave states, as follows : Ken- 
tucky, 23,700; Missouri, 8.800; Tennessee, 20,100; Arkansas, 
5,500; Mississippi, 17,800; Louisiana, 24,000; ALiryland, 8,700; 
Alabama, 4,900; Georgia, 3.400; South Carolina, 5.400; North 
Carolina, 5,000; Virginia, 5,100. The rest of the total was raised 
by recruiting officers sent South by Northern Governors. They 
attracted recruits, who were credited on their draft quotas, by 
offers of large bounties. Thereupon, using this new form of 
enlistments were sought with such zeal that General Sherman, 
June 24th, 18G4, issued an order forbidding "recruiting officers 
from enlisting negroes who are profitably employed in any of 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 175 

the army departments, and any staff (/fficcrs having a negro em- 
ployed in useful labor on account of the government will refuse 
to release him by virtue of any supposed enlistment. Command- 
ing officers of military posts will arrest and if need be imprison 
any recruiting officer who to make up companies of negro sol- 
diers, interferes with the necessary gangs of hired negroes of 
the quartermaster's or other departments without the full con- 
sent of the officer having them in charge." General Thomas re- 
ported to the secretary of war that bounties offered by these re- 
cruiting agents were encouraging desertions from the negro reg- 
iments. About the same time, September, 1SG4, he complained 
that ''Gen. Sherman was opposed to the organization of colored 
troops. He ought to bear in mind that they guard a long line 
of his communications, and that on the ^Ii:ss!Sbippi liver they 
are relied on for guarding important points/' This rebuke was 
occasioned by Sherman's protest against ''the invasion of his 
camp by agents from states for recruiting negroes." He was 
informed in a letter from Gen. Halleck that "the law was a 
ridiculous one, but it was passed through the influence of East- 
ern manufacturers who hoped to escape the draft through negro 
enlistments. They were making immense fortunes out of the 
war and could well afford to purchase negro recruits to keep 
their employees at home." He further wrote Sherman to rec- 
oncile himself to the slave arming policy — that "your ranks can- 
not be filled by the draft." In the Vicksburg Herald, August 
16th, 1864, recruits were advertised for by agents from Xew 
York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Liberal 
bounties were offered to all who would enlist to fill the quotas 
of the states named, respectively, under the call for half a mil- 
lion men. "It is comparatively easy," the Herald said, "for the 
loyal citizens to be represented in the U. S. army. Colored men 
will be accepted as substitutes, and these can be procured with 
but little ditftculty and at very small cost for bounties." 

The calculations upon the double effect of using the negro as 
a military force and agency, of the strength it would add to the 
North and take from the South, were fully verified. Every 
negro used in guarding posts and communication lines, and as 

176 Mississippi Historical Society. 

teamsters, etc., added a white soldier to the armies in the field. 
While Lincoln's assertion, that "the bare sight of a negro army 
would terminate the rebellion at once," failed of verification, 
demonstration of fact of such a reserve Torce for the Union 
armies to rely upon, was a material final factor in the failure of 
the Confederacy. The ensuing moral subjugation of the people 
of sections without the Confederate lines, was reflected in a let- 
ter to President Lincoln from Gen. Hurlburt, Aug. 11, 1863. 
Referring to an application of "fifty men of mark and position 
in Mississippi to hold a meeting to consider recognition by the 
United States, he wrote : "IN.lississippi is thoroughly broken spir- 
ited. . . . The terror inspired by the mission of Gen. L. 
Thomas of arming negroes will hasten results." The suggestive- 
ness of the following letter from Gen. Hunter to Secretary of 
War Stanton, August 3d, 18o3, readily explains the terror of 
communities without military protection, inhabited solely by old 
men, women and children : 

"From all I can see and hear at the North and from the hope- 
less state of the rebels I am fully convinced you will shortly be 
overwhelmed with the cry of the 'Union as it was and the con- 
stitution as it is.' Slavery will thus be fixed forever and all our 
blood and treasure will have been expended in vain. Cannot 
this be prevented by a general arming of the negroes and a gen- 
eral destruction of all property of slaveholders thus making it 
their interest to get rid of slavery? Let me take the men you 
can spare from this city (New York), land at Brunswick, Ga., 
march through the heart of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi 
to New Orleans, arming all the negroes and burning the house 
of every slaveholder. A passage of this kind would create a 
conviction among the negroes that they could be left to do the 
rest. Slaveholders have no rights a negro is bound to respect." 
It is but just to the North to state that Gen. Hunter was a Vir- 
ginian, and that he subsequently practiced what he preached by 
ravaging and burning the homes of the valley section of which 
he was a native. 

The social and industrial disorders brought to the state through 
the Union military policy, was greatest in the river and northern 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 177 

counties. During this period the Confederate authorities were 
dragnetting the state for recruits and deserters. Conscription 
which was sweeping, drew forth the earnest remonstrances of 
the civil authorities. They protested against the state, which 
had been so largely abandoned by the Riclimond government, 
being stripped of its male population. The negro male popula- 
tion was heavily drawn upon by both sides ; the Confederates 
for building earthworks, repairing communication lines, etc., 
while they were being enlisted as soldiers, and employed in forti- 
fication works, as teamsters and in the multitude of camp uses 
by the Union arm.y. Thousands were moved out of the state by 
their owners to prevent them from going in the Union lines. 
But the most potent of all the causes of demoralization and 
decay of the war spirit in the river countr}^ — more effective than 
all combined — was the trade in cotton. The blockade of the 
Southern ports had caused a great deal of cotton to accumulate 
in the interior; a considerable portion of the full crop of 1860- 
61 and practically all that bad been grown in the tw^o years en- 
suing. This cotton was being sought for at prices that now read 
like fiction. The total crop of 18G0-C1 was 4.861,000 bales. Of 
this Mississippi raised over a fourth. The ten counties and par- 
ishes in a radius of less than a hundred miles of Vicksburg pro- 
duced nearly a seventh of the South's total. When that territory 
was opened up to speculators with official permits, with cotton 
selling around a dollar a pound, the people went cotton mad. A 
cotton famine abroad was an influence counted on heavily, to 
force foreign intervention. That calculation failed. Instead the 
smuggling demand sapped the Confederate foundations that 
rested on devotion to the cause. Under the Southern war pol- 
icy, tens of thousands of bales had been burned by order of the 
Confederate authorities, to keep it out of the market. Could they 
have foreseen the evils of the cotton traffic, all would have been 

It did not help the Confederate cause that the fever of cotton 

speculation was almost as evil on the Federal as the Confederate 

side of the line. It was so recognized by General Grant when 

he made Memphis his base, in 1SG2. He sought to break up the 


178 Mississippi Historical Society. 

trade entirely through the most sweeping- order. But he was 
powerless before the policy and the permits of the treasury de- 
partment. In a letter to Secretary of War Stanton from his as- 
sistant, C. A. Dana, who had been sent on a mission to Gen. 
Grant's department, dated Memphis, Jan. 21, 18G3, was the fol- 
lowing: "The mania for sudden fortunes out of cotton, raging 
in a vast population of Jews and Yankees scattered throughout 
the country, and in this town has to an alarming extent cor- 
rupted and demoralized the army. Every colonel, captain or 
quartermaster is in secret partnership with some operator in 
cotton ; while every soldier dreams of adding a bale of cotton to 
his monthly pay. I had no conception of the extent of the evil 
until I came and saw^ for myself. No private purchase of cot- 
ton should be allowed in any part of the occupied region. Let 
quartermasters buy at a fixed price of 20 or 25 cents a pound, 
and forward it to be sold at public auction on government ac- 
count. I have seen Gen. Grant, who fully agrees with all my 
statements and suggestions except that implying corruption to 
every officer, which of course I did not intend to be taken liter- 
ally. I have just attended a public sale of 5,000 bales of cotton 
confiscated at Oxford and Holly Springs. It belonged to Jacob 
Thompson and other notorious rebels. This cotton brought to- 
day over $1,500,000." 

After several campaigns and movements for effecting the con- 
quest of the lower valley had been thwarted, success crowmed 
Gen. U. S. Grant's efforts in the capture of Vicksburg, July 4th, 
1863, and the army of near 30,000 men which the incapacity or 
cross purposes of the Confederate commanders opposing him had 
allowed to be cooped up there. With this signal success the un- 
disputed control of the river by the Union fleets was consum- 
mated. Vicksburg had been treated by the Confederate govern- 
ment and looked on by the people as the valley stronghold, and 
the connecting bond between the Southern states. East and West 
of the jMississippi. Failure of former efforts to reduce or seize 
it had grown a feeling of false confidence in its impregnability. 
Its unlooked for fall followed by that of Port Hudson, involv- 
ing the surrender of forces that could not be replaced, caused a 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 179 

feeling of dismay and despair throughout Mississippi and the 
other Gulf states, that discounted Appomattox. Outnum- 
bered and outgeneraled, beaten in battle and starved into 
surrender, the captured troops were paroled. Despondent and 
humiliated, they fared forth from the beleagured city to spread 
abroad the contagion of despair. His government wished Gen. 
Grant to hold them until exchanged. But with a clearer sense 
of effects he released them on their parole ; writing to Gen. Hal- 
leck: "Pemberton's army may be regarded as discharged from 
service." He thus explained himself in after years : "I was glad 
to give the garrison of Vicksburg the terms I did. There was a 
cartel in existence at that time which required either party to ex- 
change or parole all prisoners either at Vicksburg or at points 
on the James River within ten days after capture or as soon 
thereafter as practicable. This would have used all the trans- 
portation w^e had for a month." 

As the Confederate government had at the time of the sur- 
render a large balance in prisoners of war to their credit, it was 
designed to immediately place the paroled garrison back in the 
service. Hence as soon as the formalities of surrender had been 
completed, parole lists made out and delivered, Pemberton's 
troops marched from the city July 11th, destined for private 
camps in the eastern part of the state to be reorganized and out- 
fitted for immediate service. The departure was attended by 
ominous evidence that Gen. Grant had not miscalculated the ex- 
tent of their demoralization. Gen. !M. L. Smith, the Confeder- 
ate parole commissioner, enquired of Gen. Pemberton ''if men or 
regiments so desiring might be sent North instead of being pa- 
roled." After conference with the Federal commander, Pem- 
berton replied they could not — they must accept parole and leave 
the post, nor would Gen. Grant "permit the oath of allegiance 
to the United States to be taken by any member of my army." 
Nevertheless, troops of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas regi- 
ments were not interfered with in crossing the river, whence 
most of them vanished never to return. In the march across the 
state his command dwindled so rapidly that Gen. Pemberton 
urged that a general furlough be granted, to satisfy the incessant 

180 Mississippi Historical Society. 

clamor to visit their homes before again entering active service. 
July 17th he advised the war department that "the men, misled 
by many officers, insist on going home. I have no arms to prevent 
them. It is not to avoid a camp for paroled prisoners, but a de- 
termination to see their families. I have done everything in my 
power to keep them together, but in vain. Nearly all from the 
trans-Mississippi and from Mississippi have deserted already. 
Georgians, Alabamians and Tennesseeans will go when they 
draw near home." To meet such a condition, badly as these 
troops were needed, they were furloughed for thirty days. July 
20th the Confederate exchange commissioners proclaimed that 
all the Vicksburg army were exchanged. This declaration was 
challenged by the Federal commissioners. A dispute followed, 
which dragged on for weeks and months. This prevented the 
most of the men from repairing to the concentration camps un- 
til the close of the year. Many soldiers would not return to the 
ranks under a questionable status. Not a few of them never 
again did active service. Among the people the confidence lost 
when Vicksburg fell was never regained. Gen. Grant wrote Hal- 
leck on August 11th: "This state and Louisiana would be more 
easily governed now than I^Iissouri or Kentucky, if armed rebels 
"irom other states could be kept out. In fact the people are ready 
to accept anything. The troops from these states, too, desert and 
return as soon as they find that they cannot be hunted down. I 
am informed on reliable authority through many parts of Mis- 
sissippi of moves to unite the people to bring the state into the 
Union. I receive letters and delegations myself on the subject, 
and believe the people are sincere." 

A communication from Gen. Jas. R. Chalmers, dated from 
Grenada, July 29th, 1863, to Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, told the 
story of a beaten people. It read as follows : "I regret to say 
that I am informed that there is some disaffection among the 
people of the northern parts of the state and that a few persons 
are openly advocating a policy of reconstruction. Is it advis- 
able to attempt to suppress such expressions of sentiment; and 
if so what course shall I pursue toward persons guilty of using 
them"? Like reports emanated from various sections of the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 181 

state, in some there were disaffected gatherings of the weak 
hearted. While they were barren of direct result, they were in- 
fallible symptoms of defection that was fatal. In the case noted 
Gen. Qialmers was ordered "to arrest all who are openly advo- 
cating the policy of reconstruction." In a communication to 
Gen. Johnston from Gen. Daniel Ruggles, dated Columbus, Aug- 
ust 10th, 1863, "the political status of the people of this district" 
was the subject of discussion. The following paragraph deals 
especially with a much noted cause of disaffection: "The spirit 
of volunteering has ceased to exist and although there are num- 
bers of men apparently within conscription limits few go for- 
ward to swell the ranks of our armies, there being no sentiment 
sufficiently potent to impel them to enter the service. This want 
of patriotic fervor is traceable to a number of causes, coming 
under the ruHng desire of saving property. It is to be appre- 
hended that this feeling is reacting banefully on that class pos- 
sessed of small estates. They assume that if the more wealthy 
portion of our population, slaveholders especially, will not enter 
the ranks of the army to defend their rights of property, it is 
not incumbent on them who have no such large interests at stake. 
The argument assumes the greater plausibility considered in 
connection with the number of substitutes employed by the more 
wealthy, and unless something is done and that right speedily to 
arrest this growing spirit of discontent, we shall cease to have 
that cordial support of citizens who constitute a majority of our 
fighting forces." 

The conscription act, and the exemption from its drag net 
of managers of plantations with twenty negroes, went far to 
depopularize the war. Both undoubtedly proved their unwis- 
dom, in doing more harm than good. 

Writing to President Davis of the influences depopularizing 
the war, Senator Phelan of this state said: "There are many 
plausible reasons which I need not detail, for the desire to get 
away from the military service. The vigorous enforcement of 
the conscription act would tend to allay the spirit of discontent. 
Reorganize the whole system and let popular attention be started 
ar»'l attracted by the prominent, rich and influential men being 

182 Mississippi Historical Society. 

swept into the ranks. Never did a law meet with more universal 
odium than the exemption of slave owners. Its gross injustice 
is denounced even by those whose position enables them to take 
advantage of its privileges. Its influence upon the poor is most 
calamitous, and has awakened a spirit and elicited a discussion 
of which we may safely predict unfortunate results. I believe 
such a provision to be unnecessary, inexpedient and unjust. It 
has aroused a spirit of rebellion in some places, and bodies of 
men have banded together to resist it. I hope you will satisfy 
yourself of the truth with reference to the recommendations in 
your message." The intent of the law exempting from military 
service one white man on every plantation of twenty or more 
negroes was that the negro should be kept under proper control, 
his labor be intelligently supervised for support of the iiome pop- 
ulation and the army. This seemed sound policy. But it was 
proved quite otherwise. When volunteering slackened and con- 
scription was resorted to, the discrimination was looked upon as 
stated by Senator Phelan, and used by the demagogues of dis- 
content to stir up opposition to the conduct and continuation of 
the war. The purchase of substitutes, while it did not prevail 
to any great extent — the substitutes being secured from the few 
able bodied men over conscript age who had not volunteered — 
was used in the same way. 

The purpose of the Union establishment of freedmen's 
camps and employment agencies was to rid the towns and garri- 
son points of the squatting hordes of negro idlers. These were 
centres of filth and vice that spread debauchery and disease 
among the troops. As a rule the abandoned plantation? were 
leased out to favorites, or partners, of those who controlled the 
leasing. The field seemed an inviting one to Northern adven- 
turers who came in the wake of the army. Any sort of a prospect 
for growing cotton worth a dollar a pound commanded capital 
for plantation supplies. Provisions were taken for protecting 
lessees from raiding bands of Confederal tes. Pests were garri- 
soned at points from which guards could be afforded. Lessees 
were empowered to enlist their own guards. They were further 
sheltered under an order issued by the commander at \^icksburg, 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 183 

May, 1864, threatening indemnity contributions, to be levied on 
any property of the ''disloyal" owners of adjacent lands, for de- 
predations on the property of loyal lessees by guerrilla bands. A 
fine of $10,000 was ordered, for the benefit of the family of any 
lessee thus killed. Firing on passing boats was ruthlessly re- 
taliated upon adjacent houses and towns by burning. Thus Don- 
aldsonville, La,, Greenville, Miss., and Columbia, Ark., were to- 
tally destroyed, for acts of those over whom the citizens of the 
towns had no control. Under like circumstances a number of 
plantation homes were burned. 

The so-called guerrillas were in fact acting for protection of 
the people from pillage. The outrage of burning Donaldson- 
ville is emphasized by the following, from the report of Lieut. 
Roe, commanding the gunboat Katahdin only a few days before 
the burning: 'T respectfully request instructions if the Katah- 
din's guns are to be used for protection of soldiers upon a ma- 
rauding expedition, and if I am to use them in protection of 
drunken, undisciplined and licentious troops in the wanton pil- 
lage of a private mansion of wines, plate, silk dresses, chemises, 
female wearing apparel. I cannot further prostitute the dignity 
ot my profession as I conceive I have done today. I blush to 
report that while the troops were thus engaged I pointed my fire 
upon guerrillas hovering in the rear, apparently occupied in pre- 
venting such acts of United States troops." 

Terrifying as retaliation which fell only upon them was to the 
supplicating citizens, boats were fired on and leased plantations 
raided and broken up to the end of the v/ar. The Palmyra, or 
Davis Bend plantations, were so located, with the river on three 
sides, that the following order was issued March 2Sth : ''AH the 
property in the Palmyra Bend except the Turner and Quitman 
plantations is hereby reserved for military purposes on which 
will be reserved 'a Home Farm,' to furnish land for freedmen 
for their own cultivation. The general superintendent of freed- 
men will have active control under the proper military authority. 

"By order of the Secretary of War. 

"L. Thomas, 
Adjutant General." 

184 Mississippi Historical Society. 

By a subsequent order of the general in command, N. J. T. 
Dana, the Davis Bend arrangement seems to have been used for 
the profit of a few "fortunate persons." This order extended the 
"home farm"' over the whole peninsula, "including the islands 
known as Hurricane, Palmyra and Big Black." The order re- 
ferred to recited that "the limits described will easily support not 
less than twenty-five thousand frecdman. Davis Bend is per- 
fectly secured against rebel attack and raids. It was never in- 
tended that this security should be afforded at a high cost to the 
government under pretense of providing a 'freedman's home' 
in order that three or four fortunate persons should be favored 
with leases of plantations in so desirable a locality." All white 
persons were notified to leave the plantations named. Thus Davis 
Bend became the chief camp of freedmen. 

"There is at Davis Bend," said The Herald of September 21, 
1864, "a great experiment in progress of what the freedmen may 
be expected to do hereafter. There are about seventy-five farmers 
working land on their own account. About 1,200 acres in cotton 
and the same in corn. Jeff Davis' plantation is all covered with 
these negro farmers, and just where the rebellion was hatched 
shall rise up the demonstration that black men need only the op- 
portunity to solve the great problem that has so vexed the poli- 

In October 18G3 the following circular of the policy toward 
abandoned plantations was issued through Gen. L. Thomas, 
from Natchez, by order of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stan- 

The following regulations for the government of the com- 
missioners for leasing plantations are published for the inform- 
ation of all concerned : 

1. The primary objects are to line the Mississippi river With 
a loyal population and to give aid in securing the uninterrupted 
navigation of the river at the same time to give employm.ent 
to the freed negroes, whereby they may earn wages and be- 
come self supporting. 

2. The property of disloyal persons of right belongs to the 
United States, and when required may be taken. Such is the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 185 

case with plantations, crops, etc., owned by them, which the 
commissioners may take possession of and lease the plantations 
to loyal citizens. 

3. The plantations of men of undoubted loyalty, especially 
those who have been so from the beginning of the rebellion, 
will be occupied and managed by themselves or leased by them 
to loyal citizens. In case they do neither, the commissioners 
may take possession and lease as in the above case. 

4. Men of doubted loyalty if permitted to cultivate their 
plantations, will be required to take as a partner a loyal citizen. 

February 20th, 1864, Gen. L. Thomas complained to the 
secretary of war of the maladministration of the affairs of 
freedmen and abandoned plantations by Mr. W. P. Mellen, 
agent of the Treasury Department. He wrote: ''Since Mr. 
Mellen has taken charge of the abandoned plantations, instead 
of recognizing what had been done under my instruction for 
the present year, he required all permits to be revoked and in- 
troduced a system the workings of which the men of experi- 
ence on the river assert to be impracticable. * * * I do 
not wish to have anything to do with the abandoned plantations, 
buts if the government will send a commission I w^ill operate 
with them cordially and furnish all the labor required. I con- 
sider the negroes under my charge, but Mr. Mellen avers that 
they are entirely under him. The military authorities must 
have command of the negroes or there will be endless confu- 
sion." The answer to Gen. Thomas' complaint was a letter 
from President Lincoln that he "go at once to the Mississippi 
river and take hold of and be master of the contraband and 
leasing business." In a letter to the secretary of war some 
months later Gen. Grant wrote : "Through treasury agents on 
the Mississippi and by a very bad civil policy in Louisiana I 
have no doubt the war has been considerably protracted, and 
the states bordering on the river thrown further from sympa- 
thy with the government than they were before the river was 
thrown open to commerce." 

March 11th, 1864, Gen. Thomas issued, from Vicksburg, a 
long and intricate code of instructions, interspersed with much 

•I. ::^ 



186 Mississippi Historical Society. 

politico-moral disquisition, governing the labor and conduct of 
the abandoned plantations. His rules were prefaced by the fol- 
lowing general announcement: "The occupation of the plan- 
tations and employment of the freedmen having been directed 
by the President of the United States, must be regarded as a 
settled policy of government, and it is the duty of all military 
commanders and troops to afford protection to the fullest ex- 
tent to this most important interest whenever it can be properly 
done." Enthused by contemplation of his system he rhapso- 
dised over it; *'A more majestic and wise clemency history 
does not exhibit. Those who profess allegiance to other gov- 
ernments will be required as the condition of residence in the 
military division of the Mississippi to acquiesce without reser- 
vation, in the demands presented by government as a perma- 
nent basis of peace. The noncultivation of the soil, without 
just reason, will be followed by temporary forfeiture to those 
who will secure its improvement. * * * Xhe yellow har- 
vest must wave over the crimson field of blood and the repre- 
sentatives of the people displace the agents of purely military 
power." Laying his scheme of occupation and cultivation of 
the river plantations before Gen. W. T. Sherman, it was con- 
demned by that commander as ''a long weak line easily apn 
proached, which can be broken at any point by bands of a hun- 
dred men with perfect impunity. * * * Now I would pre- 
fer much to colonize the negroes on lands clearly forfeited to 
us by treason and for the government to buy or extinguish the 
claims of other and loyal people in the district chosen. I look 
on the lands bordering the Mississippi, Steele's Bayou, D'eer 
Creek, Sunflower, Bogue Phalia, Yazoo, etc., in that rich al- 
luvial region lying between Memphis and Vicksburg, as the 
very country in which we might collect the negroes, where they 
will find more good land already cleared than any district I 
know of." The vae victis of Brennus the Gaulish barbarian 
was mild, by comparison with the pains and penalties these two 
Union generals proposed for the people of the lower river. Be- 
tween the upper and the nether millstone of military tyranny 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily. 187 

and negroism they sougiit to grind tlic non combatant popula- 
tion to powder. 

By act of congress, in July, 18G4, the trade in coitcn was 
limited to persons actively residing and producing tlie article 
within the Federal military lines. Ijcyond this limitation only 
the government could become the purchaser. This act was 
passed because of the cotton trade corruption of the army and 
to cut off the revenue derived from trade across the lines by 
the "rebels." Very elaborate regulations were promulgated 
from the treasury department, for executing this \d.\\\ The 
following orders controlling and regulating ''abandoned plan- 
tations" were published in the Vicksburg Herald : 

Vickburg, Miss., Sept. 8, 1864. 
"The application of every planter for permit to ship cotton 
must be accompanied by certificate of the superintendent and 
provost marshal of freedmen, that the wages of the laborers 
have been paid, or that sufficient security has been given for 
the payment of the same. No permit v/ill be granted without 
such certificate. 

Vicksburg, Miss., Sept. 16, 1864. 
Fof the information of the public, it is announced that the 
undersigned has been assigned by the general agent of the 
treasury department to permit the transportation of products 
from the district of Vicksburg, which were purchased under 
proper authority and paid for prior to July 29, 1864, in pursu- 
ance of section 55, regulations of July 29, 1864, upon the con- 
dition following: 

The authority under which the products have been purchased 
must be presented to the undersigned, and a copy thereof must 
be filed at this office. 

Vicksburg, Miss., Sept. 16, 1864. 

In order to secure to the government pay for rations furn- 
ished negroes working lands for themselves all sales of cotton 



188 Mississippi Historical Society. 

or corn made by negroes must be approved by the provost mar- 
shal of frecdmen, and bear his certificate that all claim for ra- 
tions and supplies furnisl;cd by the government have been set- 

This order applies to all cases, whether the parties have re- 
ceived any supplies or not as there is no way of finding out 
who have received except upon an examination of the parties 
themselves and the books in this office. 

Samuel Thomas, 
Col. and Provost Marshal of Freedmen. 

Headquarters, District of Vicksburg, 
.p. . . Vicksburg, Miss., Sept. 15th, 1864. 

Misapprehension appears to exist as to the authority under 
the right granted in the rules and regulations of the treasury 
department to ship products of the rebellious states, which were 
purchased and paid for prior to their adoption. Many persons 
appear to consider that this carries with it the understanding 
that products can still be produced beyond the lines of actual 
military occupation and brought within said lines for shipment. 

General Order 33, current seiies, forbids the crossing of any 
property over the lines, except the personal property of bona 
fide refugees; and all persons are cautioned that that order will 
be literally construed, saving solely the coming crops of plan- 
tations which have been worked under the authority of the 
treasury department. 

Pickets will be careful to prevent the coming in of any other 
products, and will increase their watchfulness to prevent and 
punish frauds by bad men attempting to sm.uggle old cotton 
under the pretense of its being a part of their crop. 

By order of 

Maj. Gen. N. J. T. Dana. 

H. C. RoDGERS, Asst. Adjt. Gen. 

The special treasury agents, "after conference with the major 
general in command/' at Vicksburg, issued trade pennits under 
which alone could any one engage in merchandising. No per- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily, 189 

son could be so licensed who had not taken the oath of allegi- 
ance. Nor could his clerks be employed except on such condi- 
tion. Products of leased plantations in the Mississippi district 
could only be offered for sale in Vicksburg and, Natchez. But 
in spite of high priced cotton, and all of the advantages of pro- 
tection and favoritism, more fortunes were lost than were made 
by those who invested money in planting. In addition to the 
losses of raids, the taxes and protection exactions, the army 
worm appeared in August, 1864, and seriously damaged the 
crop. A letter in the Vicksburg Herald of August 20th re- 
ported the destruction as very great. "Every plantation in 
this neighborhood,'' it read, "is laid waste and many fields will 
not make five bales to the hundred acres." Another account 
stated that "the whole crop would be cut short a half." Octo- 
ber 5th the paper stated that "the season from the moment of 
planting was as propitious as could be wished up to about the 
15th of .August, when the army worm made its appearance and 
in a very short time the fair promises were blasted forever. 
There is no planter around here who will make a fourth the 
cimount he reasonably expected, and some will scarcely make 
the seed, they planted." The following from a later Herald, 
after the yield was determined, refers to the Davis plantation: 
"We" did not over-state the productiveness of the soil, the in- 
dustry of the people or the reasonable expectations. But alas 
for human foresight, we did not allow for the waste of worms. 
They devoured as the locusts of Eg}^pt. Five-sixths of the crop 
was thus destroyed. Some of the negro planters sold their crops 
before the worms came for large prices." Much of the disas- 
ter was attributed to the late planting, growing out of "the col- 
lision of the departments' over them, the treasury and military, 
and the conflicts of authority." 

While cotton growers on the abandoned plantations had 
burned their fingers in 1864, there was no abatement of the 
fever of high priced cotton. It was calculated that the experi- 
ence of the past year would, if duly observed convert losses 
into gains. One thing sought was better protection from raid- 
ers. This was urged in a long memorial addressed to Gen. 

190 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Canby, commanding the military division of the gulf, and dated 
Dec. 12, 18G4, reciting that "it was unnecessary to allude in de- 
tail to the many trials and difficulties endured by the loyal les- 
sees of the Vicksburg district, in the past year. Suffice it to 
say, that invited by the government to cultivate the most neces- 
sary staple of our country — cotton — with promises of protection 
and all necessary facilities for pushing the business, thousands 
of enterprising and loyal citizens from various parts of the 
Union, wMth faith in the honest intentions of the government 
officials, that they would perform their pledges, accepted the 
invitation and invested capital and labor in planting." This 
preface was followed by a moving recital of "the murder and 
pillage of the loyal lessees by guerrilla bands." Bitter complaint 
was lodged against the military authorities for withholding pro- 
tection — "many acts of unparalleled atrocity and murderous bar- 
barity being committed almost within gun shot of Federal mili- 
tary posts." "Necessary arrangements were urged whereby 
the plantations may be resumed and reoccupicd and made more 
secure for another year." 

The details of the arrangement asked were set forth — all 
based upon a larger militaiy protecting force. Otherwise it 
was stated that in the proposed district to the west of Vicksburg 
the - government would lose a revenue of $6,640,000 on 
150,000 bales of cotton; or $44 per bale. At this date 
cotton was selling in New York for $1.24 per pound. 
Such a showing was deemed a sufficient argument for 
the employment of an army of plantation guards. 

More regulations were published for systematizing and sup- 
ervising the plantation control and management for the year 
1865. The exact terms of contracts, with the specified wages, 
rations and clothing for the laborers, were prescribed as set 
forth in instructions from the treasury department and indi- 
cated in the following: 

"All contracts made by white men with freedmen, eitlier for 
furnishing plantation supplies or stock, for the leasing of land, 
for labor, or any other articles, involving the interests of the 
freedmen in any way, must be written out in full, the main 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 191 

points clearly stated, and approved and filed in this office. Plant- 
ers wishing freedmen to labor on plantations must apply at this 
office for a proper permit, and no planters who have not set- 
tled with their hands for labor done during- the year 18G4, and 
who have not taken up the bond for such settlement, deposited 
in this office, will be permitted to employ freedmen until such, 
settlement is made and the bond cancelled. 

After securing such permit, planters can proceed to any 
freedmen camps in the district and hire freedmen, but must 
enter into a written contract with them as required by the treas- 
ury regulations, before they are taken to the planations, a copy 
of which contract must be filed as above. 

All planters in this district will report to this office, in writ- 
ing, upon the last day of each month, the names of all hands in 
actual employ during the month; date of entry upon labor, or 
of leaving the plantation; rate of wages paid or amount of 
interest in crop ; amount of stoppage during month, and num- 
ber of dependents upon each working hand. 

By order of 

Col. Samuel Thomas, 
Pro. Mar. Gen. of Freedmen. 

A lengthy document, dated March 21st, 1865, contained the 
following : 

In addition to just treatment, wholesome rations, comfortable 
clothing, quarters, fuel, and medical attendance, and the oppor- 
tunity for instruction of children, the planter shall pay to the 
laborer as follows : 

Male Hands — First class, $10 per month; second class, $8 
per month ; third class, $G per month. 

Female hands — First class, $8 per month; second class, $6 
per month; third class, $5 per month. 

Boys under 14, $3 per month. 

Girls under 14, $2 per month. 

These classes will be determined by merit and on agreement 
between the planter and the laborers. 

Engineers, foremen and mechanics will be allowed to make 

193 Mississippi Historical Society. 

their own contracts, but will always receive not less than $5 per 
month additional to first-class rates. 

One-half of the money wages due will be paid quarterly as 
follows : On the first days of May, August and November, and 
final payment of the entire amount then due, on or before the 
1st day of January. 


Wages for the time lost w^ill be deducted in case of sickness; 
and both wages and rations where the sickness is feigned for 
purposes of idleness ; and in cases of feigned sickness, or re- 
fusal to work according to contract, when able so to do, such 
offender will be reported by the provost marshal to the super- 
intendent, put upon forced labor on public works, without pay. 

Laborers will be allovv^ed and encouraged to choose their own 
employers, but when they have once selected, they must fulfil 
their contract for the year, and will not be permitted to leave 
their place of employment (except in cases where they are per- 
mitted so to do for just reasons, by the authority of the super- 
intendent) and if they do so leave without cause and permis- 
sion, they will forfeit all wages earned to the time of abandon- 
ment and be otherwise punished as the nature of the case may 

All crops and property on any plantation where laborers are 
employed will be held to be covered by a lien against all other 
creditors to the extent of the wages due employes, and such 
lien will follow such crops or property in any and all hands un- 
til such labor is fully paid and satisfied. 
By command of Major Gen. Hurlbut. 

George B. Bl.\ke; 

Lieut. Col. and Assistant Adjt. Gen. 

The weekly ration for laborers was fixed. No store could be 
opened except by pennit, which was not saleable nor transfer- 
able. Lessees were granted permits to erect stockades and en- 
list guards who were to be officered by the military commander 
and equipped and rationed out of the government stores. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 193 

Guards were promised lessees by Gen. Dana, the Mississippi 
d'.'partment commander, with headquarters at Vicksburg, 
"wherever they could be spared, to be stationed at such points 
and in such numbers as to save peril to boats, and prevent smug- 
gling to the enemy. Monthly reports were required of each 

The price of cotton, which so corrupted and crazed the peo- 
ple and the speculators, averaged 31.29 cents in New York, in 
1861-62; 67.21 in 1S62-18G3 ; 101.50 in 1863-64; and 83.38 in 
1864-65. The freight from Vicksburg to New York was 3 cents 
a pound. In a graphic, if scandalous picture of cotton trading 
across the line, Gen. N. J. T. Dana wrote Gen. O. O. Howard 
November 12, 1864, from Vicksburg: *Tt is utterly impossible 
for cotton and efficient w^ar, loyalty and traitorous traffic, to 
grow together. Bad as Memphis is said to be, this place and 
Natchez were, prior to Gen. Canby's advent, much worse." Of- 
ficers of high rank engaged in sharing the profits of this ''trait- 
orous traffic." One general was charged by an officer of his 
command with having netted $10,000 in three months, while 
commanding at Natchez. In 1864, secure in possession of the 
river, extensive plans were laid for raising cotton on the ripar- 
ian plantations. Treasury department agents were assigned to 
take possession of abandoned lands. Freedmen's camps had 
been provided for under general order 51, August 10, 1863. 
Army officers were detailed as superintendents of such camps, 
to issue rations, lease lands and give employment to freedmen. 
They were authorized to hire them out to civilians ''on proper 
assurances that they would not be run off beyond the military 
jurisdiction of the United States." Negroes in such charge 
niight also be hired on public works or in gathering abandoned 
crops. Under prescribed rules citizens might make contracts 
with their freed slaves for plantation work. Provost marshals 
were ordered to see that every negro m the military jurisdiction 
was employed by some white person, or sent to the freedmen's 

In correspondence of J. B. De Bow, general produce loan 
^.Q:ent. after the fall of Vicksburg, the statement is made that 


194 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the Confederate government owned 200,000 bales of cotton in 
Mississippi. He was then instructed by the secretary of the 
treasury, C. S. Memminger, "to consult the military authorities 
and organize some system by which the cotton may be preserved 
when practicable and destroyed if otherwise there is great danger 
of its falling into the hands of the enemy." This cotton was scat- 
tered over the country, in the hands largely of planters who had 
sold it for Confederate notes or bonds. After the fall of Vicks- 
burg some was moved out, some burned, some captured and much 
of it preyed upon and sold across the line by soldiers and citizens. 
Every bale was the object of speculation or greed. There was 
nothing elsewhere in the occupation of Confederate territory like 
the contamination of this trade in cotton. Its sordid and bale- 
ful effects duplicated those of the gold discoveries. It under- 
mined virtue, public and private, destroying the self-sacreficial 
spirit that upheld the Confederate cause. This touchstone of 
evil had deeply infected West Tennessee and North Mississippi 
as early as the close of the second year of the war. 

In a letter from Vicksburg to the Secretary of the Treasury 
Gen. Grant wrote July 23, 1863 : "My experience in West 
Tennessee has convinced me that any trade whatever with the 
rebellious states is weakening to us at least thirty-three per 
cent of our force. No matter what restrictions are thrown 
around trade, if any whatever is allowed, it will be made the 
means of supplying to the enemy what they want. Restric- 
tions, if lived up to make trade unprofitable, and hence none 
but dishonest men go into it. I will venture to say that no hon- 
est man has made money in West Tennessee in the last year 
while many fortunes have been made there during the time.'* 
Idle words, though true, these proved. 

"Our people," writes Gen. R. Taylor in Destruction and Re- 
construction, "were much debauched by the trade in cotton. I 
write advisedly, for during the last two and a half years of the 
war I commanded in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and 
Alabama, the great producing states. Outpost officers would 
violate the law and trade. In vain were they removed: the 
temptation was too strong and their successors did the same. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 195 

* * * I hated the very name of cotton, as the source of so 
much corruption to our people." When Gen. Taylor took com- 
mand in the Trans-Mississippi he protested strongly against the 
cotton burning policy. But after he had become acquainted 
with the cotton itch, he thus reversed his opinion, in a report to 
Gen. Bragg, in Feb. 1864: 

"My views', upon the subject of the destruction of private cot- 
ton have undergone a decided change, and I am of the opinion 
that cotton belonging to private individuals should be destroyed 
whenever likely to fall into the hands of the enemy. * * * 
So long as the Federals can receive cotton from our lines, or 
have any prospect of procuring it by occupation of any portion 
of our territory, they will observe their existing policy and re- 
quirements prohibiting the shipment of supplies to us. I have 
issued orders directing the destruction of private cotton when- 
ever it is in danger of falling into the enemy's hands." 

Writing to President Davis Jan. 5, 1865, Robert McHenry, 
a citizen of Union county, Arkansas, thus pictured the evil in 
that state: "The cotton speculation on the Mississippi river 
has been carried on for the last year on a very extensive scale. 
Under the pretense of obtaining clothing for the army it has 
had and is still having a very demoralizing effect on the Con- 
federate army in the Trans-Mississippi * * * Xhe soldiers. 
I am sorry to say, are deserting and going home and to the en- 
emy in consequence of the cotton speculation, and unless there 
is a stop put to it I fear the consequences. * * * ,\ large 
portion of the cotton returned to Richmond as being burned, 
has been stolen and sold to the enemy." 

How much cotton was burned during the war is a moot ques- 
tion. The policy, and the orders of the Confederate authorities 
directed the burning of all cotton liable to be captured. After 
the investment of Vicksburg this was construed to mean all baled 
cotton between the Mississippi river and the Yazoo river on the 
east bank, and between the Mississippi and the Ouachita on the 
west bank. And, generally, south of Vicksburg on the east 
bank, and north of the Louisiana line in Arkansas, that was e>c- 
posed to capture. Toward the close of the war large quantities 

'j';' 5;; 



196 Mississippi Historical Society. 

were burned in front of the advance of Gens. Sherman and 
Wilson. While there was doubtless less cotton burned than so 
reported, it is probable that as much as a million bales, and pos- 
sibly more, was burned. Gen. Wilson reported 255,000 bales 
stored mainly at Selma, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, 

The corrupting cotton trade and attendant robbery of a de- 
fenseless people increased after the fall of Vicksburg. It was | 
not so imperative for the commanders of garrison troops and 
posts to enforce discipline, as when confronted by hostile forces. j 

Impelled by intolerable' conditions, forty citizens of Oak 
Ridge, near Vicksburg, met Sept. 4, 1863, to appeal to the mil- 
itary authorities for relief from "straggling soldiers, and ne- 
groes armed and unarmed, who had despoiled them of their 
possessions and from whom their families were daily exposed 
to injuries and insults." Permission was asked to "unite as 
good orderly citizens for mutual aid in pursuing the vocations 
of life and protection of property and person." The "removal 
or disarming of the negroes on Roach's and Blake's plantations, 
who had robbed peaceable white citizens, and murdered citizens 
of Deer Creek,'' was asked. The question was asked, if "se- 
curity of life and property would be afforded those who were 
planting and pursuing their vocations by the military.'' Copies 
of the proceedings of this meeting were sent Gens. Sherman 
and Grant. The former's response was as a stone to those w^ho 
asked bread. In a long and spiteful harangue he informed 
these people that on account of "firing on our steamboats, and 
after the long and desperate resistance to our armies and in 
Mississippi generally, we are justified in treating the inhabi- 
tants as combatants and would be perfectly justifiable in trans- 
porting you all across the seas. ... In due season the ne- 
groes at Blake and Roach will be hired or employed by the gov- 
ernment. But in the meantime no one mu^t molest them. . . 
The moment your state can hold an open fair election and send 
senators and representatives to congress, I doubt not they 
would again be a part of the government. Until that is done 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 197 

it is idle to talk of such little annoyances as you refer to at 
Roach's and Deer Creek." 

Gen. Sherman further, and considerately informed these com- 
plaining citizens that "Gen. Grant was absent and would have 
no time to notice their petition, as he deals with a larger sphere ; 
I have only reduced these points to writing that you people may 
have something to think about, and divert your minds from cot- 
ton, n'ggers and petty depredations." A copy of his correspon- 
dence being sent to Gen. Halleck, that officer referred it to 
Gen. Grant, who took occasion to wTite that "he did not coin- 
cide with Gen.. Sherman as to the policy toward those people. 
. . . I think we should hold out terms that by accepting 
they would receive the protection of our laws." Subsequently, 
Gen. Sherman explained to Gen. ]\icPherson, who commanded 
a corps under him that he "intended making planters feel that 
they were responsible for the safety of navigation, for collect- 
ing corn and cotton, giving receipts to the loyal only. They 
must be shown we can reach and punish them in case they con- 
nive at attacks on our boats." To disprove connivance, "they 
must be active as friends. They cannot be allowed to be neutral. 
They may protest against being held responsible for acts of 
Confederates. But in war we have a perfect right to produce 
results in our own way." Such distorted and brutal theory of 
methods of war found no echo either with Gen. McPherson or 
Gen. Grant. 

In a letter to Gen. Halleck August 30th, General Grant thus 
referred to the Deer Creek affair: "Signs of negro insurrec- 
tion are beginning to exhibit themselves. Last week some 
armed negroes crossed tb^ Yazoo in the neighborhood near 
Haynes' Bluff, and went u}. into the Deer Creek country, where 
they murdered several whitt men. I cannot learn the full par- ! 

ticulars of this occurrence. The negroes who committed this i 

act, however, are not soldiers, but were probably some men } 

from a negro camp occupying plantations near Hayiies' Bluff. I 

It seems that some of the citizens in that country have at- j 

tempted to intimidate the negroes by whipping and (in a few j 

instances) by shooting them. This probably was but a case of 

198 Mississippi Historical Society. 

retribution.'' Local chronicles reveal no retribution in this case. 
After the fall of Vicksburg all Confederate troops cleared out 
of the Deer Creek country, a section made up wholly of large 
plantations and no white men of military age remained. Know- 
ing that they might rob and murder there with impunity, negro 
men from concentration camps at Blakeley and Roach's, being 
under no restraint, and armed by the Federals, depredated on 
the citizens as reported to Gen. Sherman. 

The following account of the Deer Creek raid, in Aug. 1863, 
was obtained from Col. W. D. Brown, a planter and a gentle- 
man of highest character and respectability, who was near the 
scene at the time: 

"A murderous band of negroes from Haynes' Bluff on the 
Yazoo river, made a raid up Deer Creek. The raid was not 
authorized by the military authorities, but was planned by a 
few blood thirsty negroes, intent on murder of the few white 
citizens then resident on the Creek. At the Good Intent plan- 
tation (now Smedes station) they murdered a Mr, Sims, then 
the overseer or manager of that plantation. Moving up on the 
west side of the Creek they next captured Charles J. Fore, quite 
an old man, who had for many years been the general manager 
of the several plantations owned by H. R. W. Hill on Lower 
Deer Creek. They did not kill Mr. Fore, but according to my 
recollection they wounded him severely and left him — suppos- 
ing he was dead or that he would die. Continuing up on the 
west side of the Creek they came to the home of Mr. Joe Clark, 
near the head of Neasome Bayou. Mr. Clark was shot to death 
by them, his wife clinging to him and begging for his life in 
the midst of the volley fired into his body and he fell dead in 
his room in the presence of his W"ife and little children. Con- 
tinuing northward they next came to what is known as the 
Georgiana plantation, then the property of ^Ir. George F. 
Short. There they shot to death Mr. Johnson, the overseer of 
the plantation, A little further up the Creek they attempted to 
kill Mr. John M. Clark, but failed as the Creek lay between 
them. Mr. Gark escaped with a bullet hole through his hat. 
Continuing their raid to the point where Rolling Fork is now 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily, 199 

located, they found an old Irishman in charge of the property 
of an absent owner, but did not molest him. There they made 
inquiry for the writer, whose residence was half a mile further 
up Big Deer Creek. Learning that he was absent from home, 
they turned back toward the Yazoo river." 

Col. Brown makes this observation, which is eloquent of the 
restraints and the lessons of slavery: '*A fact connected with 
these murders which excited no notice at the time, but which 
is very noticeable now, is that these unrestrained demons did 
not, even though nerved to indiscriminate plunder and murder 
of w^hite men, in a single case offer to injure or insult women 
and children." 

This murderous Deer Creek raid was one of the few actual 
symptoms, of "the slave insurrection" mentioned by Gen. Grant. 
A month before a document setting out such '*a plan" came 
into the possession of the Confederate government, a part of 
the mail of a steamer captured between Norfolk and New Berne. 
It described **a plan to induce the blacks to make a concentrated 
and simultaneous movement or rising in the night of August 
1st; to arm themselves as best they could and commence oper- 
ations by burning railroad and county bridges, tearing up rails, 
destroying telegraph lines, etc. No blood is to be shed except 
in self-defense. Intelligent contrabands were to be selected to 
spread the plan and make the rising understood by several hun- 
dred thousand slaves by the time named." This document, 
which may be read on page 1068 of the War Records, Series 
I, V^olume XVIII., was signed Augustus S. Montgomery and 
directed to Major General Foster, commanding the Department 
of North Carolina. He was assured that it would be communi- 
cated "to every other department in the seceded states." It 
was endorsed, "approved, C. Marshall, Major and Aide de 
Camp." Secretary of War Seddon in sending copies of it to 
Southern governors, wrote: "You will perceive that it dictates 
a plan of a general insurrection of the slaves on August 1st 
next, and while attaching no great importance to the matter, 
I deem it prudent to place your excellency in possession of the 

200 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The ''negro insurrection" was calculated upon no little by 
Northern political leaders, as an agency in the subjugation of 
the South and the punishment of "rebels." The idea was not 
quenched by John Brown's failure. But it was never a cause 
of serious apprehension in the South, or by the Confederate 
authorities. Negro fealty and fear, contempt for their capac- 
ity of organization, prevented alarm. Dread of the visitations 
of independent companies wdiich operated throughout the river 
country was sufficient to hold the slave population of the plan- 
tation belt in order. And a few months after the occurrence 
above related, the descent of a small body of Confederates 
broke up the negro camps at Blakeley and about Haynes' Bluff, 
though they were almost under the guns of the Vicksburg gar- 

This sense of security against insurrection by the slave popu- 
lation was rudely disturbed when the policy of arming the ne- 
gro population and organizing them under white officers was 
announced. This did not have the effect announced by Presi- 
dent Lincoln of at once ending the war. The negro troops 
in fact were never looked upon and never proved themselves 
formidable in battle. But in garrison, or on the raid, 
they ''inspired a terror," as was foretold by Gen. Grant, 
that was frequently justified at the expense of the non- 
combatant population. While the Deer Creek murders w^as the 
most ominous event of the kind, there were others that spread 
fear of the armed bodies of negroes abroad over the land. In 
June, ISG-i, the people of Vicksburg were horrified by an affair 
thus related in The Herald : "John Bobb, a peaceable unof- 
fending citizen, has been most brutally murdered by negro sol- 
diers. Ordering a lot of negroes out of his yard, where they 
were picking flowers, Bobb was cursed, abused and insulted. 
He knocked down a negro sergeant, when they left vowing re- 
venge. He immediately proceeded to headquarters and, after 
reporting the affair, was promised protection by Gen. Slocum. 
When he went to his home some fifteen or twenty negro sol- 
diers, led by a sergeant, arrested him and a Mr. Mattingly, w^ho 
was with him. He was taken through the machine shops and 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 201 

150 rods down the bayou when a negro shot him in the back. 
He fell and another shot struck his face. Mattingly ran and 
was pursued and shot at. Gen. Slocum sent one of his staff to 
ascertain the facts. He found Bobbs dead, his distracted wife 
hanging over his body, surrounded by 100 negro soldiers who 
shouted, 'we've got them now.' He ordered the arrest of all 
the parties, but up to this writing the sergeant alone has been 
arrested. If Gen. Slocum does not find out and hang these 
men there is no security for life to any man, and he is unfit for 
the command." But beyond issuing an admonitory order of 
"the terrible consequences if the spirit which led to this act is 
not repressed" and that "hereafter the officers of any regiment 
guilty of such crimes wall be held to a strict accountability," 
nothing. seems to have been done. 

Gen. Slocum's order was not, it seems by the following from 
the Herald of July 23d, taken seriously : ^'Complaints are daily 
made to the military authorities of outrages committed on the 
rights of the citizens, and no means have been resorted to for 
eft'ective remedy. Several cases have come to our knowledge 
in the past week where colored soldiers have entered and strip- 
ped gardens of vegetables and fruit. Only yesterday this was 
done and when ordered out by a lady she was grossly insulted. 
This was in three hundred yards of two encampments." Other 
instances of a like nature followed, occasioning the observation 
that such "daily occurrences does not argue well for officers 
charged with the duty of maintaining discipline." The recur- 
rent reports of disorder and turbulence of the negro soldiers 
continued. February 24th, 1865, the Herald tells of "the dia- 
bolical murder" of iVlr. Garrity, manager of the Dick Christ- 
mas plantation, his wife and two children by two negro desert- 
ers from a gunboat. The house was robbed and burned. "We 
did not hear," the paper said, "of any efforts for arresting the 

March 17, 1865, the Herald had an account of "a horrible 
affair, the shooting and mortally wounding by soldiers of the 
66th colored infantry of Mr. S. B. Cook, some miles from 
Vicksburg on his plantation. They entered his house and be- 

202 Mississippi Historical Society. 

haved in a very insulting manner besides committing other out- 
rages." Mr. Cook died from his wounds. No arrests or pun- 
ishment of the murderers followed. This crime was closely 
followed up by another "horrible murder." The Herald's ac- 
count reads as follows : "On the night of April 3d, after Ma- 
jor J. R. Cook, who lives seven miles from Vicksburg, and his 
family had retired, a party of about 25 negroes entered the 
house and shot Mrs. Cook. Major Cook sprang to her assist- 
ance and was severely if not mortally wounded. Supposing his 
wife, already dead, he succeeded in making his escape in com- 
pany with his little son. The negroes remained in the house 
five hours, pluiidering. Mrs. Cook died the following morn- 
ing. She spoke but few words, merely saying she had been 
shot by negroes dressed in uniform. Major General Dana has of- 
fered a reward of $500.00 for apprehension of the guilty." This 
general, who had succeeded General Slocum, followed up his of- 
fer of reward by prompt and vigorous action. A dozen negro 
soldiers were arrested and tried by a court martial presided 
over by Gen. J. A. Maltby. They were convicted and ordered 
executed. The order was carried out May 26th, eight of the 
52d colored infantry and one of the 5th colored heavy artil- 
lery being hung outside the city fortifications. Three of the 
guilty were respited by Gen. Warren, who had succeeded Gen. 
Dana in command. 

Wherever the negro soldiers were stationed or marched, 
there was dread among the women and children. On one of 
Col. E. D. Osband's raids through the river country, with three 
white and one negro regiment, in October 1864, he surprised a 
small battery of light artillery. Before abandoning the guns 
a few shells were fired from near the residence of Judge Ed- 
ward McGehee, a mile or so from Woodville. The negro regi- 
ment was detailed to burn him out. An old letter from a mem- 
ber of the family relates that "on the remonstrance of this old 
man, who told the officers in command that the house sheltered 
none but himself, his wife and three daughters, one seriously 
sick, he was dragged from the house and beaten over the head 
by the negro soldiers with their pistols. His wife begged the 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 203 

white commander, a Captain J. B. Cook, of Kansas, not to 'let 
those negroes treat her husband so.' This wretch called out, 
'do you hear that, boys? She called you niggers. Hit her.' 
And one of them knocked her down with his saber." 

March 16 by order of Gen. Dana, "Provost courts" were es- 
tablished at the posts of Vicksburg and Natchez. There was 
conferred upon such tribunals original jurisdiction, with powers 
of **fine and imprisonment, hard labor and banishment" over 
misdemeanors and minor civil actions, and all cases of military 
offenses now triable by military commission. Provost courts 
were given authority to try ''matters of difference between the 
United States government, its officers or agents, and citizens 
concerning the right or possession of personal property." All 
decisions, judgments and sentences were to be promptly re- 
ferred to the commanding general of the district for approval, 
which was requisite before execution of the court's prescripts 
in cases of banishment, when the fine was over a hundred dol- 
lars, the imprisonment over thirty days, or the property inter- 
est over a hundred dollars. 

Preceding contents are intended for enlightenment upon con- 
ditions and events in the sections that were virtually outside of 
the Confederacy, after Federal occupation of the river and the 
river cities and towns. There was little less demoralization 
and despondency in the adjacent counties. With the shift of 
the main military campaign and operations to the eastward, the 
whole of the state was open to hostile expeditions, from Mem- 
phis, Vicksburg and Natchez, which were frequent, extending 
pretty much to the eastern state boundary. In January, 1864, 
with no other apparent purpose than to lay w^aste the country. 
Gen. W. T. Sherman sw^ept across the state from Meridian to 
Vicksburg with an army of 30^000 men. There being no force, 
adequate to resist him, his march was scarcely opposed except 
by cavalry demonstrations and attacks on his trains. On reach- 
ing Meridian, then but a straggling town it was wantonly 
burned. Sherman then took up his return in March, via Hillsboro 
and Canton, burning and ravaging the country. All the way 
across the state a line of march from twenty to thirty miles 

uO ,;.'f" 


204 Mississippi Historical Society. 

wide was marked by standing chimneys — mute sentrys to the 
sheer barbarity of war. The country was stripped of corn and 
cotton, horses, mules and all stores of provisions, reducing the 
non combatant population to actual want. This was the fore- 
runner to the manner of war soon to be visited upon Georgia, 
and the Carolinas by this same ruthless warrior. 

Thereafter, to the war's close, except in the middle eastern 
part of the state, no regular or adequate force of Confederates 
was maintained for protection of the people. Such bodies of 
irregular cavalry as operated in the state effected little except 
to keep the negro population in a wholesome state of submis- 
sion. The state was still looked to and heavily drawn 
upon for army supplies. Between such regular demands 
and the exactions and robberies of Union marauders, 
and the thinly disguised plunder of the people by Con- 
federate shirkers, with consequent interference with farming 
operations in 1864, to secure the necessaries of life by the non- 
combatant population had become a problem by 18G5. With the 
slave population that had grown over a million bales of cotton 
a year engaged wholly in the production of food supplies, there 
had been abundance even after supplying the requisitions for 
the army, up to 18(54. Removal of the negroes and impress- 
ments of horses and mules with the drain and destruction of in- 
vasion had produced exhaustion that had brought the state to 
the verge of economic collapse. After the Vicksburg campaign 
in 1863, the capital of the state had been moved to Columbus; 
afterwards to Alacon. The legislation of the war years was 
almost' wholly devoted to acts for sustaining and co-operating 
in the Confederate military operations. Local government was 
centered upon providing for dependent families of soldiers. In 
each county there was a board of relief commissioners, one 
from each police district, whose duty it was to gather informa- 
tion of the necessities of the dependant, and with the boards 
of police administer to their wants.- A most serious domestic 
problem was to furnish the people with salt. The legislature 
passed various acts to supply this pressing need. January 1st, 
1863, half a million dollars was appropriated ''out of the mili- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 205 

tary fund for the purpose of procuring salt for the people of 
the state, and particularly for the indigent families of soldiers/' 
The government was authorized to appoint agents "to obtain 
salt by mining or otherwise." By act of April 5th, 1864, the 
governor or general salt agent was empowered to make good 
losses of salt, upon proof of the board of police of any county 
where salt furnished for indigent families had been captured 
or destroyed by the public enemy. The purchase of cotton and 
woolen cards was authorized also by legislation for the use of 
• indigent families. 

At the legislative session in January, 1863, the governor was 
authorized to impress all able bodied slaves between the ages 
of 18 and 50 years, or so many thereof as may be required by 
the military engineers of the state, or as may be called for 
either by the commander of the state or Confederate forces 
therein, with the use of tools and implements, wagons and teams 
necessary to render the labor of the slaves so impressed effect- 
ive, to provide for the public safety by aiding the military forces 
of this state and of the Confederate states, to repel invasion and 
repress insurrection. But in a subsequent resolution, after the 
subjugation of northern and river counties, to repress abuses 
of slave impressments, the governor was called upon "to do 
all things in his power to protect the people from illegal press- 
ing of slaves by officers of the Confederate army, or by parties 
assuming to be such officers ; especially to prevent the whole- 
sale pressing of slaves progressing in the border counties, 
which, if continued, will have the effect to cause the slaves of 
those counties to go almost en masse to the lines of the enemy." 
The increasing urgency for in the Confederate armies was 
marked in a resolution of August 13, 1864, "waiving exemp- 
tion from conscription of all officers under 45 of incorporated 
cities and towns; all relief commissioners, trustees for state in- 
stitutions ; road overseers : deputy sheriffs, except one in each | 
county; deputy clerks, school commissioners." In this session | 
the governor was empowered in time of invasion or threatened I 
invasion of the state by the enemy, to call to the state military j' 
service all free white males between the ages of 16 and 55, ! 

:.;u; t;..V/ 

206 Mississippi Historical Society. 

including all exempted or detailed by the Confederate state not 
actually in the military or naval or other service of the Confed- 
erate states. Only judges and clerks of courts of public record, 
extending to the principal clerk alone, the legislative depart- 
ment, one sheriff to each county, commissioners appointed to 
distribute the fund for relief of destitute families of soldiers 
not exceeding one for each police district; physicians above the 
age of 45 years, who are engaged in the practice in the county 
of their citizenship, such public millers absolutely necessary, com- 
prised the exempt list. The governor vetoed a bill extending 
exemptions to members of the board of police, county treasur- 
ers, and ministers of the gospel, and it was passed over his veto. 
Though in a resolution of April 4, 1864, it had been declared 
that the Confederate congress had no constitutional power to 
conscript or place in the Confederate military service any legis- 
lative, " executive, judicial, or military officer of the state gov- 
ernment. Power to this extent was claimed in an act so sweep- 
ing that no exemptions of such officers was specified. Local 
officers such as were not dispensed with, were held by old men 
and disabled soldiers. In pursuance of the war policy, the people 
were encouraged and urged to the growth of food products sole- 
ly; cotton planting above three acres per hand was interdicted 
under a heavy penalty. All private distillation of grain was pro- 
hibited, the state undertaking to supply the medicinal needs of al- 
coholic drink through a public distillery, and dispensaries. Some 
millions of bonds and notes were issued in aid of the war power — 
a million notes being paid out direct to the families of soldiers. 
To supply a sufficient money circulation and arrest the deprecia- 
tion of the currency, five millions of notes known as cotton 
money, were used in the purchase of cotton, at five cents a pound. 
Thus secured it was expected this issue would pass on a parity 
with gold and silver. It was contracted that the cotton would be 
delivered when called for by the Governor, at such places as he 
might direct. With Confederate notes these state issues fur- 
nished the circulating medium. 

Upon the breaking out of war gold and silver as a circulating 
medium disappeared of course. After the fall of Vicksburg Con- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 207 

federate notes depreciated almost to worthlessness. In the river 
counties after the capture of Vicksburg United States notes, 
greenbacks paid out for contraband cotton, circulated at an enor- 
mous premium. Judged by the prices, everything was a luxury. 
At the prevailing currency depreciation, however, price hsts of 
the closing years of the war tell of nothing so much as the im- 
pending collapse. A bond sale authorized by acts of the legislat- 
ure in August, 1864, provided that they should not be sold at less 
than par. The next day a supplemental act was passed that the 
said bonds should not be sold at less than 50 per cent of par. 
"Needs must when the devil drives." 

The legislature continued to meet in regular and special ses- 
sions, to aid in and provide for the needs and emergencies of the 
Confederate war policies and operations. Attendance after the 
shift of the capital from Jackson, when occupied by the enemy in 
18G3, to Columbus, and then to Macon in 1864, was under many 
difficulties, and at heavy cost and inconvenience to the member- 
ship. Among the acts called for by the war's exigencies was one 
exempting the property of soldiers from levy and sale. Subse- 
quently all collections at law, or under mortgage and trust deed 
sales were stayed until twelve months after the close of the war. 
Civil courts were thus practically deprived of business, and 
closed. The war and its burdens, the service and sacrifice re- 
quired in the support of the forces in the field, combined and 
swayed the domestic life of the people as well as their political 
destiny. Yet while the state honored as far as possible all drafts 
upon her resources of men and material, inherent jealousy of in- 
fringements of the central government upon the rights of the 
states lingered. The core of these rights, the writ of habeas cor- 
pus, was treated as a sacred calf to be saved from the sacrificial 
altar on which the lives of the best and bravest had been so lavish- 
ly offered up to the wrath of Moloch. Through all the stress of 
storm, the darkness and disasters of war, the state and the South 
clung with a fatuous tenacity which materially weakened the re- 
sisting war power, to the writ of habeas corpus. Upon the recom- 
mendation of President Davis congress had, early in 1862, au- 
thorized a limited suspension of the writ. But its enactment, 

208 Mississippi Historical Society. 

and application in certain sections, so aroused hostility that it 
was repealed within the year. By unanimous vote the legislature 
of the President's own state, instructed the Mississippi senators 
and requested the representatives to support repeal. In Febru- 
ary, 1864, upon the earnest recommendation of President Davis 
that the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was the sole 
remedy for evils he enumerated, it was so enacted in a carefully 
restricted form for ninety days. Governor Brown, of Georgia, 
the evil genius of the Confederacy, by message incited the 
legislature of Georgia to declare the suspension uncon- 
stitutional by statute. Governor V^ance of North Carolina, too, 
aired it as a grievance. The President's appeals and arguments 
for re-enactment of the suspension of the writ were vainly re- 
newed until the adjournment of congress, just before the col- 
lapse. By a queer revolution of time's whirligig Senator Yancy, 
who had tolled the tocsin of war first and loudest, and Vice 
President Stephens, the most illustrious and influential opponent 
of secession led the fight against the writ. "I deny in toto," said 
the senator in debate, "that the war power in this government is 
superior to the civil power.*' The President's insistence upon 
suspension caused ^^Ir, Stephens ''to doubt his good intentions." 
Sailing through the storm lashed sea under such a dead weight 
of political barnacles, it is small wonder the Confederate ship of 
state went to the bottom. 

Historians have remarked on the d'fference in the habeas cor- 
pus procedures of the two sections, furnishing as the contrast 
does a significant illustration of the more real and earnest devo- 
tion of -the South to the rights and liberties of the citizens as safe- 
guarded by constitutional prescription. The Confederate Presi- 
dent unhesitatingly recognized that the suspension of the writ 
which he deemed essential in the conduct of war was vested in 
congress. On the otlier hand yir. Lincoln suspended the writ at 
will. He even delegated this extraordinary and tyi;annical pow- 
er to his generals as he saw fit. The Northern pract'ce is best 
illustrated by the boa-tful and memorable words of Secretary of 
State Seward, to Lord Lyons, the British minister. ''My Lord, I 
can touch a little bell on mv right hand and order the arrest of a 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 209 

citizen of Ohio. I can touch a bell again and order the imprison- 
ment of a citizen of New York, and no power on earth except 
the President can release them. Can the Queen of PIngland do 
as much?" Short work would Lincoln and Seward have made 
of such obstructionists, thorns in the flesh of the strugg'ling Con- 
federacy, as Vice President Stephens, Senator Yancy, Governors 
Brown of Georgia, and Vance of North Carolina. 

As late as March, 18(35, the legislature of Mississippi — called 
in special session by Governor Clark for the reason that "the 
destitution of the people calls for immediate relief and other mat- 
ters of importance demand prompt legislative action'' — met in 
Columbus. Time and occasion was taken to pay tribute to the 
habeas corpus fetich of state's rights ; with the death rattle sound- 
ing in the throat of the Confederacy, an act was passed to brace 
up that shelter for offenders against military authority and law. 
And in less than sixty days from the date of that act, the rights 
and liberties which the military power, shorn by the legislature, 
alone had guarded, were under the iron heel of a despotic foe. 
Thereafter, for years, the writ of habeas corpus was no more 
respected by the military commanders than the mace of the 
speaker of the house of commons, when raised against the usur- 
pation of Cromwell. ''Take away that bauble" was the reply in 
deed if not in words on a hundred occasions, by the epauleted 
rulers of the South, to appeals for rights under the law. 

In special session of the legislature at Macon, in February, 
18G5, the act "to provide for families of soldiers" was extended 
and amplified. A fixed feature of both Confederate and state 
governments, growing out of a depreciated currency, was the 
gathering of tithes of food products. This tax in kind was two 
per cent, which with certain specified exemptions, was levied on 
the gross amounts of corn, wheat and bacon produced in the year 
1865: on tolls of grain mills; on the gross profits of tanneries, 
and on all woolen and cotton fabrics and yarn manufactured, and 
on a number of other subjects. A new fund for the same pur- 
pose was created by a levy of a special tax of one hundred and 
fifty per cent on the regular state cax ; not to apply to slaves, 
stock and plantations. Boards of police were directed to levy a 

210 Mississippi Historical Society. 

further tax in kind for *'the 18G4 deficit in the indigent fund." 
There were "Confederate state assessors" to return the amount 
of products of each producer, which returns the county district 
commissioners were to adopt, as a basis of the said tax in kind. 
These commissioners were for the purpose of equitable distribu- 
tion of the "tax in kind,'* directed and empowered to prepare rolls 
of the number of such indigent families, with the number and 
age of each and deposit the same with the clerk of the board of 
police, which board was empowered to classify the dependents, 
and to verify any rolls that they doubted the correctness of. - 
Families of deserters or soldiers absent without leave were 
barred from the tax in kind. All necessary details for its proper 
application and operation were provided in the law which was 
approved March 9th, 1865. The commissioners were empowered 
besides by a separate act to impress the surplus of all who had 
taken the benefit of the Confederate law exempting owners of 
twenty negroes from service. They were also empowered to 
make impressments of teams or boats necessary to the efficient 
discharge of their duties. Thus was the war brought home to 
every one, as an all controlling and ever present power, in the 
affairs of life. 

To check the spread of demoralization, with the design of re- 
storing order and obedience to the authorities, in that territory. 
Gen. N. B. Forrest was given command over a department in- 
cluding West Tennessee, Mississippi and East Louisiana. In an 
order dated January 21, 1865, he thus addressed himself to the 
task: "The rights and property of citizens must be protected 
and respected, and the illegal organizations of cavalry prov/ling 
through the country under various authorities not recognized as 
legitimate, or which have been revoked, must be placed regularly 
and properly in the service, or driven from the country. They 
are in many instances nodiing more nor less than roving bands of 
deserters, absentees, stragglers, horse thieves, and robbers, whose 
acts of lawlessness and crime demand a remedy which I shall not 
hesitate to apply even to extermination. I sincerely hope * * * 
I shall have the hearty co-operation of all subordinate command- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily. 211 

ers and the unqualified support of every brave and faithful 

The legislature being in session ''hailed with great satisfaction 
the avowed purpose declared by Gen. Forrest in his recent pub- 
lished address ; pledging him all the aid in their power in consum- 
mating so laudable a purpose." The governor was requested '"to 
use all the means at his command to effect the ends stated and to 
fully co-operate with Gen. Forrest in such measure as may be 
necessary to restore all delinquents to our army." 

The disturbed and deplorable state of affairs that Gen. Forrest 
was expected to restore to order is disclosed in a letter H. W. 
Walter, a prominent citizen of Holly Springs, who was an officer 
of the inspection department, w^rote December 29, 18G4, to Sen- 
ator Watson of this state. He said "The conscript department 
was worthless ;" that it employed more able bodied men than it 
had sent to the front." Fie stated that ''from a careful examina- 
tion of the subject the number of deserters in the state was not 
less than 7,000. ^ --^ ^ Xhe number of skulkers under de- 
tails is also very large. Every post is full of them, generally of 
young and healthy men. Large numbers of supernumerary and 
unnecessary officers are found everywhere. * * * Portions 
of the state have been so repeatedly over run by the foe, that 
scarcely half our planters have been able to till the soil. In the 
northern tiers of counties sufficient food is not found for the 
home population." He again wrote February 1, 1865, that ''af- 
fairs are in a deplorable state. The county is infested by desert- 
ers, robbing friend and foe indiscriminately, and the condition 
of the citizens is pitiable. Dismounted Confederate cavalrymen 
steal his horses, while a dastard foe robs him of food and cloth- 
ing. Grain cannot be grown and food cannot be purchased. Our 
cavalry vigilant and successful in arresting* the citizen whose 
wants compel him to send his bale of cotton to Memphis to pro- 
cure necessary food, fail to molest the professional blockadcr who 
makes merchandise of treason. * * * j ^^ satisfied tliat not 
less than 1,000 deserters ten days since could have been found be- 
tween the lines in this section. * * * j cannot discover that 
one nun has been added to the regular service by conscription 


212 Mississippi Historical Society. 

from this (Marshall) county for months past. Conscripts and 
deserters are daily seen on the streets of the town of Holly 
Springs * * * Gen. Forrest with that energ-y and ability 
which always characterizes his actions has turned his attention 
to this evil. With the aid of his brother Col. Jesse Forrest, he 
has lately arrested and sent to their commands many deserters." 
Writing from Leake county to President Davis November 2oth, 
1864, of bad state conditions. Judge R. S. Hud.-on reported a 
terrible confusion of military affairs. "The state reserves is 
composed mostly of persons liable to, or deserters from the Con- 
federate service. The infantry is deserting to the cavalry. A 
large number calling themselves 'scouts/ and 'independent com- 
panies' are infesting the valley and are nothing less than mur- 
derers, plunderers and blockade runners. The cohesive band is 
spoils from our own people. Nearly all the deserters take refuge 
with them. They adopt a most extravagant furlough system to 
make sale or dispose of their booty. They demoralize the 
country from whence they came, through which they pass, and 
where they stay. They scatter at will, and reunite the same way, 
bearing such permission from their officers. The citizen is their 
victim in purse or property. The next evil is one resulting in a 
great measure from this. It is a general discontent and loss of 
confidence in the administration and our success, a disposition 
of opposition of the powers that be and declarations for recon- 
struction. Your proposition for the government to possess itself 
of the negroes for army uses finds great and general opposition." 
Such letters must have mournfully suggested to 'Mr. Davis the 
story of Job and his comforters. 

The following from an account in the Memphis Bulletin of 
March 13th, supplies further evidence of conditions in North 
Mississippi as reported by a raiding force of Union troops : "The 
country was found to be in a desperate condition, the people in 
some places being on the verge of starvation. In Tippah county 
meetings had been held to devise means for getting and dis- 
tributing food. An intense Union feeling prevailed, many who 
had been bitter secessionists were ready and anxious for peace on 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 213 

any terms. * * * j^i Marshall county home guards were or- 
ganizing for protection from robbers. Negroes sent out of the 
way of the Federals were being brought back under wages agree- 
ments as the Confederacy was believed to have played out." 

The thoroughness of Gen. Forrest's plan for checking the de- 
moralizing and criminal practices that were rife is to be read 
in the following directions March 15th, to one of his subordinates. 
Col. Jesse Forrest : You will move w^ith your command from this 
point (West Point) through Chickasaw, Pontotoc and Lafayette 
to Oxford * * " You will spread out your men as much as 
possible to gather up deserters, absentees and stragglers * * ♦ 
From Oxford you will move in the direction of Panola, scouting 
well the counties of ^Marshall, Panola and De Soto. * ^= * 
Arrest all persons taking cotton through the enemy's lines with- 
out proper authority, which can only be given by Maj. Jno. T. 
Wallis, approved by the lieutenant general commanding depart- 
ment. * * * Having scouted the counties mentioned move to 
the Mississippi river near Horn Lake, then down the river as far 
as Issaquena, arresting absentees, deserters, stragglers, etc. 
* * * While on your rounds you will collect all companies or 
parts of companies you may fmd, unless they be there under or- 
ders from department or district headquarters, ordering them to 
report to you for duty and taking them with you." Any officer 
resisting, Col. Forrest v\-as ordered to arrest and place in irons. 
In the growing inclination to escape actual service, a number of 
companies of so-called cavalry had congregated in the counties of 
West Mississippi and East Louisiana under the pretense of guard- 
ing the river landings and approaches, and to break up tlie trade 
in cotton and mule stealing which many of their oflicers were 
engaged in. These were especial objects of Gen. Forrest's atten- 
tion. The stringency of his orders and policy is illustrated in the 
following story, published by the Rev. S. Archer, a noted Presby- 
terian minister patriot of Greenville: 

*'On one occasion, I was called upon to marry a couple at the 
place known as Winterville, then called the Ireys plantation. I 
met Cant. Evans within a mile of the place. He said: "Where are 
you going, sir?'* 

214: Mississippi Historical Society. 

"I am going to marry ^Tiss Copcland to Lieut. Johnson." 

He replied: "It aint any use, I have just had him shot and 
flung into the river." 

"Why, you are mistaken." 

"No, it's a fact." 

"What did you do that for?" 

"He stole Mr. Halsey's mules, and I had orders from General 
Forrest, who commands the cavalry in this section, to shoot all 
such marauders, and simply executed my orders." 

I repaired to the house and found that what he told me was 
literally true. 

Could any man have brought order out of the confusion and 
despair that prevailed, nerved the heart of the people to renewal 
of faith and vigor in the failing cause Gen. Forrest would have. 
But the situation was become vain.' Only in the ranks of the 
armies in the field did constancy and fidelity linger. With the 
people, the source of sustenance, the force of resistance had run 
out, and only the shell was left, to offer a short prolongation of 
the futile combat. In the Southern part of his department Gen. 
Forrest reported that no dependence should be placed on the 
forces stationed there for enforcing his orders. The utmost de- 
termination was shown by Gov. Qark to aid in the campaign for 
clearing the state of deserters and stragglers, and forcing them 
back in the ranks. But patriotic inspiration and the summons by 
brave leaders to battle had become idle as the call of spirits from 
the vasty deep. The tide of affairs of the Southern Confederacy 
was ebbing fast. The last breath of vitality went out at Appo- 
mattox,- April 9th, 18G5. What show or sign of prolonging the 
struggle thereafter was mere convulsion of dissolution. 

So harrassed and outworn as the people were, so feeble had 
grown the pulsations of hope of a successful termination of the 
war, that the shock of the surrender of the armies in ihe field was 
broken. The effect of the collapse upon sentiment had been dis- 
counted as an inevitability. The bitterness of defeat, the under- 
lying remorse and grief over the vast and vain sacrifices of blood 
and treasure was threaded by the natural sense of relief, that the 
end of war, with its agony and bloody sweat, had come. There 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 215 

was joy, subdued and sombre in the home coming of the soldiers, 
and in the better fcehng dispensed from the survivors of armies 
in which disaster and defeat had not exting-ni.-hed the morale 
of a heroic struggle and a surviving sense of patriotic duty. 
There vv-as no time for repining over the wasted and tear dimmed 
past — to *'sit down by the waters of Babylon and weep.'' In the 
stir of action, compelled to sustain life, hope rose above the om- 
inous clouds that darkened the future. 

It was at this crucial juncture that there befell the sorely af- 
flicted South, a crowning and unlocked for calamity, April 15th 
President Lincoln .was assassinated — an insane and wicked deed 
that plunged the North into the depths of grief, which for a time 
was well nigh predominated by invocations of rage and revenge 
toward the South. For the Southern people the los> of Mr. Lin- 
coln from the nation^s helm was in itself a misfortune beyond cal- 
culation. And for this to have come on in a sh.jpe that enabled 
the haters of the South to inflame Northern sentiment against 
her was an overflow of the cup of ills. The current had set 
strongly for a just and kindly restoration of the Southern states 
to the Union. Instead there was raised a clamor of rage and 
revenge that swept away or silenced all kind\' feeling for the 
Southern people. Even Gen. Grant, who had so recently wen 
the gratitude of the Southern soldiers by the liberal l.rms he 
granted at Appomattox, was carried away by the passion that 
swept over the land. A dispatch to Gen. E. O. C. Ord, command- 
ing at Richmond, read as follows : 

Washington, April 15th, ISGa. 
Maj". Gen. Ord, Richmond, \'a. : 

Arrest J. A. Cam.pbell, Mayor Mayo and the members of the 
old city council, Vvho have not yet taken the oath of alle^iiance. 
and put them in Libby prison. Hold them guarded beyond the pos- 
sibility of escape until further orders. Arrest all paroled ofhcers 
and surgeons until they can be sent beyond our lines unless they 
take the oath of allegiance. The oath need not be received from 
any one who you have not good reason to believe will observe it, 
and from none who are excluded by the president's proclamation 

216 Mississippi Historical Society. 

without authority of the president to do so. Extreme vigor will 
have to be observed whilst assassination remains the order of the 
day with the rebels. 

Lieutenant General. 

It is to his eternal credit that Gen. Ord rose above the passion 
that raged and stayed the blind impulse of his superior officer. 
His reply is quoted: 

Richmond, Va., April 15, '65. 
Gen. U. S. Grant : Cipher dispatch directing certain parties to 
be arrested is received. The two citizens I have seen. They are 
old, nearly helpless, and T think incapable of harm. Lee and staff 
are in town among the paroled prisoners. Should I arrest them 
under the circumstances I think the rebellion here would be re- 
opened. I will risk my life that the paroles will be kept, and if 
you will allow me to do so, trust the people here who, I believe, 
are ignorant of the assassination, done, I think by some insane 
Brutus with but few accomplices. Messrs. Campbell and Hunter 
pressed me earnestly to send them to Washington to see the Pres- 
ident. Would they have done so if guilty? Please answer. 

E. O. C. ORD, 

Major General. 

Gen. Grant replied : 

"On reflection I will withdraw my dispatch of this date direct- 
ing the arrest of Campbell and ]Mayo and others so far as it may 
be regarded as an order and leave it only as a suggestion to be 
executed only so far as you may judge the good of the service de- 
mands." But a few days later he ordered the arrest and imprison- 
ment of both Judge Campbell and Senator Hunter. 

Secretary of War Stanton was the originator and a chief insti- 
gator of the charge, as cruel as it was false, that the assassination 
of Lincoln was other than the act of an "msane Brutus, with but 
few accomplices." On the morning of the President's death, in a 
letter to the British minister, he charged and promulgated that 
"evidence has been obtained that the horrible crime was com- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily. 217 

mitted in execution of a conspiracy deliberately planned and set 
on foot by rebels under pretense of avenging the South and aid- 
ing the rebel cause." Thus was the first authoritative, after the 
war, key note for firing the Northern heart against the South, 
sounded. It was taken up and echoed by a misguided multitude. 

An eloquent denial of the base and palpable calumny was 
voiced in a letter of April 16th, from Gen. R. S. Ewell, in the 
Fort Warren Military prison to Gen. Grant, which read as fol- 
lows : "General: You will appreciate, I am sure, the sentiment 
which prompts me to drop you these lines. Of all the misfortunes 
that could befall the Southern people, by far the greatest would 
be the prevalence of the idea that they could entertain any other 
than feelings of unqualified abhorrence for the assassination of 
the President of the United States. No language can adequately 
express the shock produced upon myself with all the other gen- 
eral officers confined here with me by the occurrence of this ap- 
palling crime and the seeming tendency in the public mind to con- 
nect the South and Southern men with it. Need we say that we 
are not assassins, nor the allies of assassins?" 

Rhodes history is quoted: "One loves to linger over the last 
days of Lincoln. He had nothing but m.ercy and kindness for his 
by-gone enemies. There can be no such agony of vain and un- 
ceasing sorrow and regret in Northern hearts, as clouds Southern 
retrospection of Lincoln's direful taking off. No other event in 
history is so laden with the undying remorse of dwelling upon 
what m'ght have been; of the years of trial and torm.ent, of the 
enduring fruitage of evil, that Lincoln would in all human proba- 
bility have arrested or vastly ameliorated. And when to this re- 
flection is added the fact that he was slain by a Southern man, 
with the insane thought of avenging Southern wrongs, it is 
brought home to Southern men, as the most cruel dispensation of 
the irony of fate, in all the record of time.'' 

There was one exception to the general grief too remarkable to 
be passed over in silence. Among the extreme radicals in con- 
gress Mr. Lincoln's pre-dctennined clemency and liberality toward 
the Southern people had made an impression so unfavorable that, 
though shocked at his murder, they did not, among themselves. 

218 Mississippi Historical Society. 

conceal their gratification that he was no longer in their way. In 
a political caucus held a few hours after the President's death, 
the thought was nearly universal, to quote the language of one of 
their most representative members, that "the accession of John- 
son to the Presidency would prove a Godsend to the country." 
Heading a committee calling on President Johnson Senator Ben 
Wade said, (according to Rhodes' History, Vol. V, page 151) : 
"Johnson, we Ijave faith in you. Py the gods tliere will be no 
trouble now in running the government.'' The President thanked 
him and replied : ''I hold that robbery is a crime. Rape is a crime ; 
treason is a crime and crime must be punished." 

The files of the newspapers of the day testify to the prevalence 
of the abhorrent feeling, among radical leaders of the day, of 
gratification in Lincoln's death. 

The prejudicial effects of the assassination of the President 
was not, at once or fully, appreciated in the South. The peo- 
ple could not believe that they would be held accountable for an 
act which they not only felt to be direful to their welfare, but 
naturally abhorrent to every Southerner. The war being over 
thought was fixed on the pursuits of peace — the changes that 
would be required. In regard to the status of the negro, it was 
only looked upon as an industrial question ; at this time political, 
still less social, equality was not dreamed of. In the restoration 
of the "lately rebellious states" to their former station and rela- 
tions in the Union, it was not foreseen, not even as a shadow, 
what destiny had decreed. Nor were the Southern people alone 
in looking on reconstruction as a simple matter. It was so re- 
garded by Gen. Dana, and other department commanders. Under 
his sanction, and motion. Judge A. Burwelh of Vicksburg, came 
to the front, April 22d, in a lengthy address pubHshed in the Her- 
ald. The people of the state were called upon to "calmly con- 
sider the position of the country and reflect upon the course of 
duty and interest." In conclusion it was suggested "as every 
measure will have a beginning," that "the people hold meetings 
in every county to appoint good and true representatives to re- 
establish the state government under and in hannony with the 
laws of the United States." And that "there be an election of 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 219 

delegates in every county in the state to meet in Vicksburg June 
1st; to inaugurate such measures as will result in commemorating 
the full settlement of the state government. It becomes men of 
the south to act promptly. To act boldly." Judge Burwell had 
just returned from Washington, where he had lived during the 
war, in close touch with the administration. This fact, v/ith the 
approval of the "suggestion" by Gen. Dana, caused much signifi- 
cance to be attached to the Burwell address. Commenting upon it 
editorially, the Herald said that "J^'^^^&e Burwell's suggestion for 
a -convention meets with the entire approval of Gen. Dana, the 
commiander of this department, w'ho authorizes us to say that safe 
conduct will be granted delegates to this city, to come and return." 
. Further evidence of the reconstruction idea entertained by the 
Union soldiers at this period, and of the liberal and patriotic views 
of Gen. Dana will be read in the following correspondence be- 
tween himself and Gen. Davidson, commanding the Natchez dis- 
trict under him. Gen. Davidson wrote April 22d as follows: 
"General : I desire to know whether the lenient policy I asked of 
you shall be pursued, since the recent calamity to the country in 
the violent death of the President. I have felt a doubt about it 
until I should again hear from you, not knowing how far the 
plot might implicate the disbanded traitors." To this Gen. Dana 
nobly replied, April 24 : 'T do not see reason to change the policy 
alluded to because of the great calamity which has befallen the 
country. Even though contrary to any expectation, the rebel 
leaders in high positions should ultimately be found to be impli- 
cated in the diabolical assassination of the President, I have no 
idea that the masses or subordinate officers entertain any other 
feeling than utter abhorrence of the deed. * * * It is my de- 
sire to avoid all action which might increase irritation of people 
outside of our lines. I wish to allay their fears and encourage 
them to be friends to the government. I am induced to believe 
that since their recent defeats mouths of men secretly for the 
Union have been opened and a loyal party is fast growing. I 
wish to develop it. * * * Under the present aspect of affairs 
I counsel liberality and in the belief that a Union party is now 
growing in Mississippi, whose purpose is to bring the state back 

c ;..,', A/ 

I •;? 

220 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to her allegiance, I am advising and giving countenance to the 
meeting of a convention here June 1st, at which I hope most of 
the counties will be represented. Its work will be merely pre- 
paratory. I hope you will do w^hat you can, regularly, to encour- 
age it. I have it in contemplation to order a civil government in 
a few days for Vicksburg and Natchez. I would be obliged to 
you to commence to advise v/ith leading citizens and let mQ have 
your views in full, and suggest half a dozen for a city gov- 
ernment." This correspondence was published as ''very import- 
ant" in the Herald, April 25th. The editor, a Union officer, pro- 
nounced ''the policy certainly highly praiseworthy. It is the in- 
itiatory step, if we may so speak, toward the restoration of civil 
government throughout the state." 

Such roseate views of "restoration of civil government" were 
quickly shown to be delusions — the country was soon instructed 
that the south was to have no smooth sailing to reach the old 
anchorage in the Union. The first authoritative notice of the 
trouble in store camxe from the new President, Andrew Johnson. 
Called upon by the congressional delegation of Lincoln's home 
state, Illinois, for a declaration of his intention, he announced 
that "the American people must be taught that treason is crime, 
and must be punished. '!= * * -pj^^ people must understand it 
as the blackest of crimes and will be severely punished. * * * 
What may be mercy to individuals is cruelty to the state." * * * 
Let it be enjoined on every hand that treason is crime, and trai- 
tors shall suffer its penalty * * * In regard to my future 
course, I will now make no pledges. * * * j have no profes- 
sions to offer ; profession and promise would be worth nothing. I 
will not attempt to anticipate future results until they occur and 
it becomes necessary to act." While this was vague, in some 
passages almost incoherent, it was generally accepted as pointing 
to extreme measures toward "traitors." 

Events of great imiport followed in close succession in those 
dark days. The next shock came April 20th, when Gen. Sher- 
man announced an agreement with Gen. Jos. E. Jc^hnston, for "a 
universal suspension of hostilities, looking to a peace over the 
whole surface of the country." Having been tlie most relentless 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 221 

and savage of all the P'ederal commanders toward the Southern 
people, carrying- the rigors and destruction of war to an extreme 
that transgressed all of the rules of warfare, Gen. Sherman 
passed to the other extreme upon the fall of the Confederate gov- 
ernment. The terms of peace to which he subscribed were only 
too liberal and far reaching. They were promptly and sternly 
annulled by the President. The announcement of this disapproval 
by Secretary of War Stanton, was in terms of severest rebuke. 
In declaring "a cessation of the war, general amnesty, guarantee 
of political rights as well as rights of persons and property to the 
people and inhabitants of all the states as guaranteed by the con- 
stitution of the United States and of the states respectively" Gen- 
eral Sherman was charged, first, with ''assuming authority not 
vested in him, which on its face shows that both he and Gen. 
Johnston knew that Gen. Sherman had no authority to enter into 
such arrangement. Second, it was a practical acknowledgment 
of the rebel government. Third, it undertook to re-establish the 
rebel state governments, etc. ; fourth, by restoration of rebel ?>.u- 
thority in the respective states they would be enabled to reestab- 
lish slavery." Half a dozen other reasons were assigned for the 
annullment of the peace arrangement. So unsparing was Secre- 
tary Stanton of the feelings of the commander whose manage- 
ment of the campaign allotted him had precipitated the overthrow 
of the Confederacy that, as tliough his loyalty v/as distrusted. 
Gen. Grant was ordered to proceed direct to Raleigh and asstmie 
the direction of operations against the Confederate forces. Gen. 
Johnston readily accepted the change, and surrendered on the 
terms given Lee at Appomattox. 

• In view of his subsequently declared policy of reconstruction, it 
was a fatal mistake in President Johnson that he did not sustain 
Gen. Sherman. There was no substantial difference in his terms 
and the settlement that the President was so soon brought to see 
was the only one consistent with the constitution, the national wel- 
fare and for which he vainly contended for throughout his entire 
administration. At that period there was no factious alignment 
on the question. The general wish for peace would have been 
fully met by the Sherman-Johnston plan. Gen. Grant, and the 

222 Mississippi Historical Society. 

commanders, with the rank and file of all the Union armies, would 
have been satisfied. But it was not to be — it was written in the 
book of fate that the wind having been sown, the whirlwind 
must be reaped. 

In his "Forty Six Years," page 353, Gen, Schofield passed this 
telling comment on the Sherman terms of peace: '*It may not 
be possible to judge how wise or how unwise Sherman's first 
memorandum might have proved if it had been ratified * * *■ 
We know only this much — that the imagination of man could 
hardly picture worse results than those wrought out by the plan 
finally adopted." 

Defending Sherman against Stanton's imputations Secretary 
Wells says in his Diary of Recollection : *'But this error, if it be 
one, had its origin, I apprehend with President Lincoln, who was 
for prompt and easy terms. * * * At a late period President 
Johnson assured me that Stanton's publication was wholly un- 
autliorized by him — that he knew nothing of it until he saw it in 
the papers. We were all imposed on by Stanton, who had a pur- 
pose. He and the radicals were opposed to the mild policy of 
Lincoln, on which Shennan had acted and Stanton was deter- 
mined to defeat it." 

Upon learning of the annulment of the Sherman-Johnston 
terms, and the restriction of military commanders to acceptance 
of surrender of Confederate troops, Gen. Dana revoked an armis- 
tice to which he had agreed for "a total cessation of hostilities ex- 
cept in the apprehensin of guerrillas and other offenders against 
the peace." On information of the surrender by Lieutenant Gen- 
eral Taylor of all the Confederate forces in Mississippi General 
Dana issued an order authorizing resumption of trade and inter- 
course. ''Permits and passes" it was announced, "are no longer 
necessary, and well disposed people of the country can come and 
go at pleasure." Commanding officers were notified that they 
would be held to strict accountability for exact discipline in their 
commands, and "for securing the people of the country against 
molestation or annoyance by their troops, and protection against 
injury from any sources. Supplies will be allowed to pass freely 
and products of the country. Well grounded complaints from 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 223 

the citizens in case of injury will be welcomed and treated with 
kindness and attention." 

The action taken in overruling Gen. Sherman was notice to 
all that the generals in the field could exercise no more authority 
than to receive the surrender of the Confederate forces and prop- 
erties, paroling and dispersing the men to their homes, and to 
hold the country subject to the future dispositions of its political 
future and rehabilitation by the Civil government. Orders 
were issued to other generals in the field to be limited in accepting 
the surrender of their opposing forces, by the terms given by 
General Grant. 

Col. H. A. M. Henderson, of the Confederate Bureau of Ex- 
change of Prisoners, addressed several thousand returning sol- 
diers. The following close of his address, published in the Her- 
ald of May 9th, faithfully reflected the prevailing sentiment 
among the Southern soldiers: 'T know not whether ever again 
you w^ill be rallied to that standard which through victory and 
defeat you have followed so gloriously for years. It may be the 
Confederate flag is furled forever. If this should be the case it is 
the duty of good men to respect authority. Predatory warfare 
can accomplish no good and only evil.'' A lengthy comment 
upon "the end" in the Vicksburg Herald closed as follows: 
"The war against the Union is virtually at an end in the state of 
Mississippi. It now remains with the people of the state to usher 
in the glorious reign of peace and prosperity and resume her 
proud position in the Union as a loyal state. The sooner this can 
be effected the better will be the condition of the people of the 
state. 'Peace must follow the end of the war, and the people will 
return to their rightful allegiance. The bitter hatred from the 
war must and will be forgotten. Hate must not be nursed — it 
is not a Qiristian virtue — it belongs to a barbarous race — the 
Southern people are not barbarians." Well would it have been 
had this article comprised all there was preliminary to the res- 
toration of the state to her place in the Union! 

Governor Clark issued an address from Meridian, May 6th, 
conveying the information that all the Confederate armies east 
of the Mississippi had surrendered. "All officers and persons in 

2M Mississippi Historical Society. 

possession of public supplies will be held to a rigid accountability. 
Arrangement will be made to supply the destitute. I have called 
the legislature to convene at Jackson the 11th inst. They will 
doubtless order a convention. Ofricers of the state government 
will immediately return with the archives to Jackson. County of- 
ficers will be vigilant in the preservation of order and the protec- 
tion of property. Sheriffs have power to call out the posse 
comitatus, and the militia will keep arms and obey orders for this 
purpose as in times of peace. The civil laws must be enforced as 
they now are until repealed. If the public property is protected 
and the peace preserved, the necessity for Federal troops in 
your counties will be avoided. You are therefore urged to con- 
tinue to arrest all marauders and plunderers. 

"The collection of taxes should be suspended, as the laws will 
doubtless be changed — Masters are responsible as heretofore for 
the protection and conduct of their slaves, and they should be 
kept at home as heretofore. Let all fearlessly adhere to the for- 
tunes of the state; aid the returned soldiers to obtain civil em- 
ployment, maintain law and order, condemn all twelfth-hour vap- 
orers, and meet stern facts with fortitude and common sense. 

Governor of Mississippi." 

In a criticism of this call the Vicksburg Herald avowed the "be- 
lief that the United States government will not recognize or per- 
mit the action taken by Governor Clark as he is a civil officer of 
the state under rebel rule, and more than all he is not a loyal 
man." The paper stated it as "altogether probable that Governor 
Qark had acted on his own responsibility." But on the next day 
the paper said: "In an editorial yesterday we expressed our be- 
lief (from inference) that the government would not recognize or 
permit the action wliich Governor Clark had taken in calling to- 
gether the state legislature. * * * We have since canvassed 
the matter and have learned that the Governor's course was taken 
by the advice and with the consent of Gen. Canby, and has in 
view this one object only — the calling of a convention of the peo- 
ple." The paper of that date, May 12th. also announced the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 225 

presence in the city of Judges Wm. L. Sharkey and Amos R. 
Johnston, "to consult with Gen. Dana in regard to a policy for 
restoration of civil law." 

May 7th Gen. Canby, who earnestly desired to share the bur- 
thens of relieving an existing evil condition in his department 
with civil government, wrote Secretary of War Stanton : '*I am 
satisfied if permitted the legislature of Alabama will at once call 
a convention which, in 24 hours, will undo all that has been done 
in the past four years and settle favorably and definitely all ques- 
tions that conflict with the superior authority of the government 
of the United States. I am not yet so fully advised with regard 
to the state of Mississippi, but I believe that the same conditions 
will control in that state." Gen. Canby wrote again: "1 have 
answered all who have applied to me that I have no authority to 
determine any question affecting the political relations of the 
states to the general government, but have advised all civil officers 
to return to their posts with the archives and property in their 
charge; to report themselves to the military authority, and to 
wait the action of the general government. In my judgment it 
will be wise to use the agencies which now control. If they move 
in the wrong direction they can be guided, and if perverse can be 
stopped at any moment. Please advise me by telegraph by way 
of Nashville and duplicate by the ^lississippi river." No reply 
was made to this question. In the state of affairs it was small 
wonder that Gen. Canby wrote to the secretary of war that "many 
officers who have surrendered in this command have applied for 
permission to leave the country. Can that be allowed, and if it 
can, imder what conditions?" 

Responding Gen. Grant recommended to the Secretary of War 
the publication of an order "authorizing any paroled prisoner 
who chose, to leave the country, not to return without authority." 

Secretary Stanton turned a heart hard as flint to the pitiful con- 
ditions in the South. He was no more mioved by the suffering 
anH privations of the people than Marat was by those of the 
French "aristocrats." Like that monster his thoughts were all on •!, 

bringing the leaders to judgment, and in guarding against dan- 
gers and plots which were pure concoctions of a mind diseased and 

15 I 

226 Mississippi Historical Society. 

distorted by hate. April 25th he wrote Gen. Hooker, at Cincin- 
natti, warning him that **the rebels in Canada are again plotting 
an attack on the frontier cities, and to be vigilant in guarding 
against attack." A few days later he wrote Gen. Palmer at 
Louisville, that *'Geo. D, Prentice says that Lieut. Governor Ja- 
cobs stated to J. D. Osborn that he, Jacobs, knew that the rebels 
contemplated something that would startle the nation. But that 
he had no right to say anything further in regard to the matter. 
Please examine Jacobs under oath requiring him to say what he 
meant, and from whom^ he received his information and report 
the result." After all the amiies and arsenal forces had surrend- 
ered, he directed the commander of the Gulf department to be 
on the lookout for an expedition of New Orleans parties to cap- 
ture the Tortugas forts. He was as insane and diabolic on the 
subject of rebels, and punishing traitors as Jeffreys was, after 
the Monmouth rebellion. And under a like license of that guilt 
stained monster, he would have left a bloodier trail. 

Governor Qark had been an old Whig in politics, with a strong 
bent for military affairs. Having commanded a Mississippi 
regiment in the Mexican war he was one of the first in commis- 
sion of the state's brigadier generals. He was elected Governor 
after being disabled by wounds received at Shiloh, and Baton 
Rouge. Before calling the legislature in session he had con- 
ferred with Lieutenant General Ricliard Taylor, commanding 
department; also with a number of prominent citizens. All 
agreed that this was a proper step to take. May 16th Gen. Dana, 
who had administered the affairs of the department fairly, wisely 
and magnanimously, and who was in full sympathy with an early 
and liberal restoration of civil government, was succeeded in 
command by General G. K. Warren. A few days later the leg- 
islature assembled at Jackson, as called. In his message to it 
Gov. Clark dwelt upon the embarrassing circumstances environ- 
ing the state, expressing grave fear that the reorganization of 
the state would prove a task both delicate and difticult. He es- 
pecially prefigured the effects of the assassination of Lincoln, 
which he said had caused a feeling of **the profoundest senti- 
ments of detestation," as exciting the fiercest passions. The 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 227 

message closed with tlie recommendation of a call of a conven- 
tior^of delegates of the people to repeal the secession ordinance. 
In the meanwhile Gen. Canby had been instructed from Wash- 
ington to ''not recognize any officers of the Confederate or state 
government within the limits of his command as authorized to 
execute in any manner the functions of their late offices," and to 
"prevent by force if necessary any attempt of any of the states 
in insurrection, to assemble for legislative purposes and to im- 
prison any members or other persons who may attempt to exer- 
cise these functions in opposition to orders." No order in con- 
templation of obedience to the government's will as expressed 
was needed. The mere rumor that General Osband, notorious 
as a dissolute commander of negro troops, was in Jackson, 
charged to enforce this order, was enough to secure the disso- 
lution of the state legislature and the hasty hegira of the mem- 
bers thence. As reported by ihat official the session lasted about 
an hour, May 20th, and the proceedings consisted of three acts: 
To call a convention. To send three commissioners, Judges 
Sharkey, Wm. Yerger and Fisher to Washington to confer with 
the President relative to its assembling and finding out what was 
necessary to bring the state back into the Union. To deplore 
President Lincoln's death. 

Col. Osband's report concludes as follows: Upon adjournment 
of the legislature I immediately notified Governor Clark that I 
could not recognize the civil government of Mississippi, and hav- 
ing placed the offices of the heads of departments under guard 
demanded the custody of public books, papers and property and 
the- executive mansion, appointing Monday, May 22d, for their 
delivery. At 9 a. m. Governor Clark delivered all public prop- 
erty to me under protest, but without asking to have force em- 

Nothing was less thought of at this dire juncture, than the re- 
sistance of force. Whether to the credit or the discredit of the 
Southern people, the mere word of any uniformed authority was 
accepted without question. It is a pleasure to record that abuse 
of this authority by Union officers was rare. It was the saving 
grace of a- sorely perplexing situation that the military com- 

22S Mississippi Historical Society. 

manders in Mississippi had no sympathy in the spirit of proscrip- 
tion and vindictiveness toward the South that emanated from 
Washington. Thanks to them and the kindly consideration with 
which they tempered the execution of a vindictive policy, the 
following from Gainer's Reconstruction in Mississippi, is not 
founded in fact : *']\Iany expected wholesale confiscation, pro- 
scriptions and the reign of the scaitold. People were thrown 
into more or less terror. Some held their breath indulging in 
the wildest apprehension. For days and weeks, frightened 
women lived in a state of fearful suspense, in hourly expecta- 
tion of the beginning of all that their frightful imagination had 
pictured of Northern vandalism and rapacity. Old men as well 
as some younger ones shared largely in this belief!" This pic- 
ture calls for correction. The author of this work, speaking from 
distinct memory, and the chronicles of the period, denies that 
there was any thought of "wholesale confiscation," or of the 
"scaffold." In the vicinity of the camps of negro soldiers there 
was some fear, possibly, "terror," on the part of women and chil- 
dren. There were no "days and weeks of fearful suspense." 
All this is fiction. There was disappointment and discourage- 
ment of the expectations of a wise and non-partisan settlement 
of a sorely trying and gravely embarrassed state of society. 
There was quite enough in the uncertainties of the industrial 
problem created by emancipation, the lack of faith in the f reed- 
man as a laborer, to darken the future, without the terrors of 
confiscation and beheading. 

The friendly helpfulness of Generals Canby, Dana, Slocum 
and Osterhaus, was the almost complete antidote of the harsh- 
ness of the President and the Secretary of War. A circular of 
instruction to post commanders by General Dana, through his 
adjutant, Capt. Frederic Speed, read as follows : "You are par- 
ticularly directed not to molest or incommode quiet and well dis- 
posed citizens and will be held to strict accountability that your 
men commit no depredations of any sort. Houses, fences, farm 
property, etc., will be secure and remuneration will be compelled 
and punishment inflicted for all infractions of this rule. The 
well disposed people must be made to feel tliat the troops are 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 229 

for their protection rather than for their inconvenience." Col. 
Hugh Cameron at Holly Springs was directed to ''irritate the 
pubHc mind as little as possible." Major Lyon, at Lexington, 
was ''ordered to enforce the strictest discipline and that nothing 
must be taken from the people. If you are compelled to take 
forage you are to furnish the owners the necessary certificates, 
but it will be better to abstain entirely from taking anything." 

"In taking command, June 18, of the Northern Mississippi 
District, Gen. Maltby was instructed by Gen. Canby "to give all ' 
assistance to citizens who are willing to resume their old pur- 
suits and settle questions between the blacks and whites with a 
view to induce the former to remain at their old homes when- 
ever their former masters recognize their freedom. The negro 
must be protected against any outrages by these old masters who 
must accept the changed condition and prepare to work their 
plantations on a basis of mutual agreement with their laborers. 
Vagrancy among the negroes must not be tolerated. All must 
work." Gen. Osterhaus, who had succeeded to the command in 
the state, reported to Gen. Canby June 6th that there was "a 
great deal of marauding over the larger portions of the state. 
As a general thing there are no supplies in the country to be 
shared for the troops." Gen. Osterhaus gave especial attention 
to the restoration of railroad facilities in the state. June 6th he 
reported to Gen. Canby that "after transfer of the railroad be- 
tween Vicksburg and Big Black and all property belonging to 
the Southern railroad, it appears the president was utterly un- 
able to put the road in order between Big Black and Jackson. 
No money, no credit, no energy is at the company's disposal, and 
if they had the force of laborers to do the work the company 
would look to the government exclusively to furnish them with 
rations and the necessary material, and it would not be completed 
in less than four or five months. Lieutenant Holgate of the U. 
S. Engineers, made the closest investigation of the road. It is 
his positive opinion that the thirty miles between Big Black and 
Jackson could be put in sufficient repair for operatiofi in one 
month." In conclusion, as the road was of "undoubted utility 
to the government and almost a necessity to the people of cen- 

230 Mississippi Historical Society. 

tral Mississippi and Alabama," Gen. Osterhaus recommended 
that the order to transfer the road to the company be rescinded 
for -the present and put in running- order by tlie military author- 
ities." Orders were taken accordingly and working parties 
placed on the road. A few days later Gen. Osterhaus reported 
that "the gap in the Southern road from Big Black to Jackson 
would be closed by July 15th. This road is in operation from 
Jackson to Meridian. The Mobile & Ohio is in regular operation 
'as far north as Okalona and bids fair to soon be repaired its 
whole length. The New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern 
is in operation' from Canton to Brookhaven. The company has 
raised capital in New Orleans to complete all repairs. The Mis- 
sissippi Central is running regular trains from Canton as far 
north as Senatobia. The Mississippi and Tennessee is running 
trains from Grenada to Oxford. No communication beyond 
Holly Springs. We are totally without the institution of mail. 
The condition of the country so far as my observation extends, 
may only be described as intensely quiet, generally. I hear of 
localities in which there are reported occasional disturbances of 
the peace. But this poverty stricken and utterly subjected peo- 
ple are only anxious for the restoration of authority of whatever 

The arrest of a reconstruction initiative which was thought to 
be in full compliance with the results of the war and the urgent 
need of society, its treatment as a crime although sanctioned and 
encouraged by the military commanders, prolonged the chaotic 
condition. True the military authority had lifted the bars for a 
resumption of business and traffic. And, by executive order, 
April 29th, the President had removed all restrictions upon in- 
ternal domestic and commercial intercourse in the Southern 
states east of the Mississippi river, with certain exceptions speci- 

But this permission to resume trade with the outside world 
was handicapped and almost neutraHzed in the greedy search 
and surveillance of the treasury department, for ''Confederate" 
cotton. Concerning this cotton the following order was issued 
May 10th, 1865, by Gen. E. R. S. Canby: 

:v,l > 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — ^fcNe%ly. 231 

The cotton belong-ing to the Confederate c^overnrnent in East 
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Florida, havinc^ been 
surrendered to the government of the United States, its sale to 
private individuals, or its transfer to any persons, except the 
officers or agents of that government, is prohibited. This order 
applies to all cotton procured by subscription to tiie cotton loan, 
by sale of Confederate bonds or notes, by the tax in kind, or by 
any other process by v/hich the title was vested in the Confeder- 
ate government, whether in the possession of the agents of that 
government, or still in the hands of the producers ; and all per- 
sons in whose charge it may be, will be held accountable for its 
delivery to the agents of the United States. Commanders of dis- 
tricts will be furnished with a transcript, from the records of 
the cotton agents, showing the quantity and location of the cot- 
ton within the limits of their commands, and will give the agents 
of the treasury department, appointed to receive, such facilities 
as may be necessary to enable them to secure it." 

"Any sales of this property, in violation of this order, will be 
treated as the embezzlement of public property." Gen. Canby 
reported to the Secretary of War, May 12th, that *'the quan- 
tity of cotton to be turned over to the United States by the 
cotton agents in East Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Flor- 
ida, will probably reach 200,000 bales. The greater part of that, 
hov/ever, is still in the hands of the planters, and they have al- 
ready manifested a disposition to appropriate on the ground 
that the rebel bonds and notes have no value. In this attempt 
they will be aided by the cotton speculators. Tlie records of 
the (Confederate) cotton agents appear to be very complete 
and show the location and quantity in their possession and still 
in the hands of the planters. The tax in kind cotton is all in 
the hands of the planters and the greater part of it unginned. 
These records will be turned over to the (U. S.) treasury agents 
as soon as they are appointed and will give them every facility 
possible for collecting the cotton." 

Cotton growers had in fact received no valuable consideration 
for this cotton. The notes or bonds paid them in its purchase 
were outlawed and made of no value by the power claiming the 

^32 Mississippi Historical Scx:iety. 

cotton. Under all principle of right, by any line of reason, the 
government should, as a plain matter of justice, have made good 
the price of the cotton or made no claim to it. Under the circum- 
stances the policy adopted was dishonest and merciless. It was 
in fact a denial to the Southern people of the belligerent right, 
recognized during the war. But this was not the limit of the 
injustice. An army of harpies, agents and special assistant 
agents, were turned loose on the country to ferret out Confed- 
erate cotton — all cotton being treated as Confederate cotton, or 
cotton subject to condemnation and confiscation, until proved to 
the contrary. Those who owned cotton dared not move it for 
fear of seizure and detention, with costs and fees, which went 
into the pockets of the treasury sleuths. April 23d Assistant 
Special Agent Tomeny reminded the public through Tlie Her- 
ald that the law of July 2nd, 1864, "prohibits the sale of cotton 
in the insurrectionary states except to duly authorized govern- 
ment agents," and to avoid seizure and condemnation the law 
must be complied with. The military authorities sought to 
amend or modify the literal construction of laws and regulations 
framed for a condition of war. Another assistant special agent, 
Montross, having ordered that "all cotton moving in this district 
be secured and held as Confederate cotton." Gen. Canby directed 
that "all cotton be brought forward without any military re- 
striction" and that "every facility consistent with the require- 
ments and interests of the service be furnished" ; "that there 
would be no more search for Confederate cotton." 

But the order was not regarded by the treasury agents. The 
Herald of June 9th had the following: "There seems to be dif- 
ficulty on the cotton question between the military and the finan- 
cial departments of government. Gen. Slocum and Gen. Canby 
have issued very liberal orders in regard to bringing the staple 
forward, but the treasury officers seem determined to check its 
transportation. The Memphis Argus of Gth says that "Mr. El- 
lery, who is the purchasing agent for the United States at that 
place, has determined to seize all the cotton coming to Memphis 
by way of the river to be held by him until such time as the 
parties bringing it here can prove that it was raised by free labor 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 233 

or purchased in good faith prior to July 29, 18G4, and that the 
late so-called Southern Confederacy had no claim therein. Some 
two thousand bales were seized yesterday, but the greater por- 
tion was afterward released, the necessary proof having been 

Some of the Confederate cotton seized in the hands of growers 
had not been paid for — it was only contracted for. But with 
agents paid from 25 to 50 per cent of the value of cotton "re- 
covered," no explanation was respected. By commissions and 
stealages treasury agents made fortunes. 

Another issue of the Herald told of the "seizure of a vast 
amount of cotton shipped on permits to St. Louis. Much of this 
cotton came out of the Yazoo. It was secured by Treasury Agent 
Howard, who expected a round sum for relinquishment of 
claims." But the merchants to whom this cotton was consigned 
would not submit to the robbery. They sent their lawyer to 
state the case to Secretary McCulIough, who promptly ordered 
the "release of the Yazoo cotton and all secured for the same 
cause." It was the aim of these agents to harass holders of cot- 
ton into buying the facility of selling it, or to force them to sell 
it to them as purchasers for the government. \Vlien Montross 
issued his order of indiscriminate seizure, it was ostentatiously 
added that "the order does not prevent cotton being sold to the 
treasury purchasing agents, under provisions of treasury regu- 
lations of May 9th, 1SG5." This "regulation" which is deemed 
worth perpetuating in history, is here stated in its material sec- 
tions : 

Treasury Department, May 9, 1865. 

I. Agents shall be appointed by the secretary of the treasury,. 
with the approval of the president, to purchase for the United 
States, under special instructions from the secretary of the treas- 
ury, products of states declared to be in insurrection, at such 
places as may from time to time be designated by the secretary 
of the treasury as markets or places of purchase. 

III. The operations of agents shall be confined to the single 
article of cotton ; and they shall give public notice at the place in 
which they may be assigned, that they will purchase, in accord- 

234 Mississippi Historical Scxriety. 

ance with these regulations all cotton not captured or abandoned, 
which may be brought to tliem. 

.IV. To meet the requirements of the 8th section of the act 
of July 2, 1864, the agents shall receive all cotton so brought, 
and forthwith return to the seller three-fourths thereof, which 
portion shall be an average grade of the whole, according to the 
certificate of a sworn expert or sampler. 

V. All cotton purchased and resold by purchasing agents 
shall be exempt from all fees and all internal taxes. And the. 
agent selling shall mark the same ''free," and furnish to the 
"purchaser a bill of sale clearly and accurately describing the char- 
acter and quantity sold and containing a certificate that it is ex- 
empt from taxes and fees, as above. 

V'l. Purchasing agents shall keep a full and accurate record 
of all their transactions, including the names of all persons from 
whom they make purcb.ases, the date of the purchase, a descrip- 
tion of the cotton purchased by them, also the quality and quan- 
tity thereof; also of the one quarter retained by them. A trans- 
script of this record will be transmitted to the secretary of the 
treasury on the first day of each month. 

VII. Sales of the cotton retained by the purchasing agents 
under regulation IV, as tlie difference between three fourths the 
market price and the full price thereof in the city of New York, 
may be made by such agents at such places and times and in such 
manner as may be directed in special instructions from the sec- 
retary of the treasury. Where such sales are not so authorized, 
the agents shall, without delay, ship it to New York on the best 
terms possible, consigned, until otherwise directed, to S. Draper, 
cotton agent and disbursing officer at that place. 

X. These regulations, which are intended to revoke and an- 
nul all others on the subject heretofore made will take effect and 
be in force on and after May 10, 1865. 

Hugh McCullogh. 
Secretary of the Treasury. 

Executive Chamber, Washington City, May 9, 1865. 
Approved : 

Andrew Joiinsow. 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 235 

I am prepared to receive cotton in conformity with the above 
amended regulations. 

H. H. Yeatman, 
U. S. Purchasing Agent. 
Office on Crawford street, Vicksburg, Wirt Adams' Building. 

Purchasing Agent Yeatman thus explained the regulations, 
in The Herald of June 6th, 18G5 : **This tax of one fourth must 
be paid. If you sell your cotton to a broker of merchant, you 
are charged this one-fourth, with the other taxes assessed by 
the authorities here and the incidental expenses of sale. But if 
you bring four bales of cotton to the purchasing agent, he takes 
one as the fourth due the government, and gives you his certifi- 
cate that this government tax is satisfied, and you can then sell 
the other three to whomsoever you please." 

A few days later Agent Montross cited an act of congress 
approved July 17th, 18G2, entitled **an act to suppress insurrec- 
tion, to punish treason and rebellion to seize and confiscate the 
property of rebels ;" and which forbade "all persons residing in 
states declared in rebellion against the authorities of the United 
States, to make any sale or transfer of any property, stock, bonds, 
etc., and all such sales or transfers so made were declared void. 

The purchaser under such sale or transfer neither can nor does 
acquire any title under such sale or transfer, but the title vests 
at once in the United States, by the abandonment of the previous 
owner. No sale or transfer is good or valid between parties but 
where the party conveying has taken the amnesty oath, in good 
faith, under the proclamation of his excellency Abraham Lin- 
coln, dated December Sth, 1863, and not even then, is it good 
unless they belonged to the class expressly relieved thereby, to- 
wit: All soldiers and officers of the rebel army below the rank 
of colonel. No officers in the civil list, Confederate, state, county, 
or municipal, or who has accepted an agency under either, can 
claim the benefit of the amnesty oath. It does not apply to them, 
and they are required to obtain a full pardon from the president : 
Hence, all property, etc., so transferred by parties prior to tak- 
ing the amnesty oath, and all so transferred by those not in- 

^ r.-:.-., :,vh 

236 Mississippi Historical Society. 

eluded in the amnesty, is subject to be taken possession of by the 
United States at once." 

. By order of the treasury department rule III of local rules 
for special agencies, plantation trade registry, was amended by 
inserting the words ''loyal and" before the words 'Svell disposed" 
so that it will read, "all loyal and well disposed persons," etc. 

In the Vicksburg Herald of May IGth Special Treasury Agent 
A. McFarland, of the **Skipwith District," published a warning 
to "persons purchasing cotton in this district raised in ISG-i and 
attempting to ship same on old permits" as follows : 

"Notice is hereby given that such transactions are illegal and 
in violation of the existing Treasury regulations. Cotton pro- 
duced in 1864 and so shipped, is subject to seizure and confisca- 
tion. Parties having cotton produced in 186-4, in the counties of 
Issaquena, Washington, Bolivar, Yazoo, Holmes, Carroll, Sun- 
flower, and other counties lying east of these, in Mississippi, and 
desiring to ship the same, must report it at this office. This or- 
der also includes that portion of Arkansas and Louisiana lying 
between the Arkansas river and the south line of Carroll parish, 
Louisiana. On all such cotton so shipped, (if by owners), there 
is a tax of one cent per pound, to be paid at this office; if by 
lessees the tax to be paid here is two cents per pound. Such cot- 
ton can only be cleared as having been raised by free labor, and 
subject to this tax, or sold or shipped to a government agent, 
who retains one-fourth of it. Any attempt to evade this tax and 
control the cotton as having been purchased previous to July 29, 
1864, will subject the cotton to seizure." 

That is all persons with old cotton, living anywhere between 
the latitude indicated, from the Alabama to the Texas lines, be- 
fore shipping their cotton, were required to "report at this of- 
fice," at Skipwith, an obscure river landing in Issaquena county. 
This agent also notified planters of his district that "information 
having been filed in this office of certain persons shipping goods 
into that portion of Mississippi intersected by the Yazoo and 
Sunflower rivers, under pretence of their being plantation sup- 
plies, but with the design of selling them, notice is hereby given 
that all goods so taken into that territory are liable to seizure. 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 237 

and if detected will be seized and confiscated. Persons owning 
or controlling plantations within the counties of Issaquena, 
Washington, Bolivar, Yazoo, Holmes, Carroll, Sunflower and 
other counties lying east of these in Mississippi, are requested 
to come forward and register their plantations in this office, after 
which they will be entitled to take out such supplies as they need 
for their own use. Recommendations for the same will be given 
at this office. This order also includes that portion of Arkansas 
and Louisiana lying between the Arkansas river and the south 
line of Carroll parish, Louisiana. Any to evade these 
regulations by taking goods clandestinely in the above-named 
territory for sale, v/ill subject them to seizure and confiscation." 

April 27th, Treasury Agent Montross warned "planters who 
have been obliged to abandon their plantations on account of 
high water, that they must first make application to this office 
for permission to dispose of their plantation supplies and pay 
the (traders) assessment fee of three per cent." Every act and 
effort of the citizens, in buying or selling, even the calamity of 
a Mississippi river overflow, was penalized and preyed upon, by 
the drove of ruthless and hungry treasury sharks. Yet an- 
other hold the government had was the state's quota of the di- 
rect tax levied in 1861 for the sinews of war waged against her. 
Payment of this was demanded, and an arbitrary acreage assess- 
ment was imposed on the tax payers for an amount that in the 
aggregate was near half a million dollars. Only a part was paid, 
the remainder being charged against the state. As collection 
was difficult, to even up the account, in after years, there was a 
refund out of the treasury of all payments made by all states, 
Northern and Southern; millions to the former hundreds to the 

A true reflection of the iniquitous and oppressive government 
cotton policy at the war's close, is borrowed from the report of 
"the joint select committee, to enquire into the condition of affairs 
in the late insurrectionary states," commonly known as the Ku 
Klux report; testimony being taken in 1871 and the report sub- 
mitted February 19th, 1S72: 

"As to the cotton frauds. When the war ended there were 


238 ' Mississippi Historical Society. 

on hand in the South at least five millions of bales, worth in 
Liverpool, five hundred million dollars. Of this five millions of 
bales, the Confederate States owned a mere fraction, the bulk 
of which was turned over to General E. R. S. Canby by Gen- 
eral E. Kirby Smith May 24, 1S65. The Confederate govern- 
ment had cotton stored at Montgomery, Alabama, and Columbus, 
Georgia, but it was all burned — with other cotton, the property 
of private individuals — on th.e approach of General V/ilson's 
cavalry raid in the latter part of April, 1865. What became of 
this five million bales of cotton? Who got it, and where did it 
go? The Treasury Department filled the entire South w'ith its 
agents, informers, and spies, in search of Confederate cotton, 
tobacco, etc. The Treasury Department had also g'ven contracts 
to numerous parties, who were to receive from a quarter to half 
of all Confederate cotton discovered. These agents, spies, in- 
formers, and contractors went to work and seized indiscrimin- 
ately everybody's cotton. They pretended in all cases to have 
proof that w^hat they seized was Confederate cotton. Proofs 
piled mountain high rarely convinced them to the contrary. But 
when the proof of ownership was accomplished with an offer 
to surrender a part of the cotton for the return of the balance, 
the proposition was ahvays accepted. The owner of a hundred 
bales of cotton on the first seizure would be tolled not less than 
twenty bales, and if the cotton w^as being moved from an interior 
place, it was not infrequently the case that the owner would have 
to submit to a second and often a third and fourth tolling be- 
fore reaching market. Instances are numerous in New Orleans 
'and New York where cotton was seized after it had reached 
those cities, by orders from the Treasury Department, although 
the cotton thus seized had run the gauntlet of tolling from the 
plantation to its place of destination. When seized in the large 
cities, enormous tolls were demanded either in cotton or money. 
But when terms w^ere arranged by which the share demanded by 
the official was given up, the proof of private ownersh-p was al- 
ways satisfactory. The owners of the cotton had no redress, and 
they were compelled to either surrender a part or the whole. A 
Treasury regulation required all cotton seized in the Atlantic and 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 239 

Gulf states to be shipped to Simeon Draper, United States cot- 
ton agent in the city of New York; and cotton seized on the 
waters of the upper Mississippi — north Georgia and north Ala- 
bama — to be shipped to William P. Mellon, United States cotton 
agent at Cincinnati. Much of the cotton seized was found on 
plantations before the owners could get home after the surrender 
of the southern armies. In such ca:,es the agent m.aking the seiz- 
ure, after retaining from a quarter to a half, would ship the bal- 
ance to his supervising agent, and this supervising agent would 
levy his contribution, when the remnant would be shipped either 
to Mellen at Cincinnati or Draper at New York. When the 
cotton reached Draper or Mellen it was again manipulated, and 
when offered for sale, it was always by samples ; and the sam- 
ples were invariably greatly inferior to the cotton represented. 
Such usually was the inferiority of the samples exhibited (fre- 
quently grades representing a quality of corton known as low 
middlings) that the quality offered would only sell for ten or 
fifteen cents a pound, when in reahty the cotton thus sold was 
worth in the market from sixty cents to one dollar and twenty 
cents per pound. The purchasers on such occasions were al- 
ways the special friends of D'raper, as well as partners in the 
swindle. Bales of cotton weighing from five to six hundred 
pounds, were always reduced by plucking from one to two 
hundred pounds before being offered for sale. This was called 
"waste cotton," and was carefully gathered up and sold as 
"trash" to the eastern manufacturer. W'hen the owners of cot- 
ton traced their property to Draper, (if a thousand bales had 
been taken from them.) he would report that of the thousand 
bales seized he had only received two hundred; and that the 
"two hundred bales received was of very inferior quality, and 
only sold for ten or fifteen cents per pound, and that transpor- 
tation, storage and commissions were so and so, which left only 
a small sum in his hands." Thus was cotton manipulated by 
Simeon Draper, United States cotton agent at New York. When 
Draper became cotton agent of the United States at New York, 
he was known to be a bankrupt. It is a well known fact that he 
settled his debts and died leaving property estimated at millions. 

240 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Draper only did on a large scale what was universally the prac- 
tice of treasury agents on a lesser scale. 

• "In defiance of the President's proclamation and Treasury in- 
structions, treasury agents continued to seize cotton as late as 
December 1865. Although the Supreme Court of the United 
States, the Chief Justice delivering the opinion, in the case of Mc- 
Leod vs. Callicott, decided that any cotton seized after the 30th 
of June, 18G5, was unauthorized and tlierefore illegal and that 
the claimants of cotton seized after that date were entitled to 
recover from the United States what the cotton was worth in 
the markets at the time of the seizure, with lawful interest from 
^ate, these claims are generally unpaid." 

''Of the five million of bales of cotton in the Southern states 
at the close of the war, in the spring of 1885, the agents and gov- 
ernment of the United States appropriated not less than three 
million bales. On March 30th, 1868, congress passed a joint 
resolution covering into the treasury the proceeds of all captured 
and abandoned property. And when that resolution passed, 
Jay Cooke & Co. had $20,000,000 of the proceeds of cotton in 
their possession, on which they had been banking for years." 
* * * On page 10 of a report to the 37th congress made by 
the Secretary of the Treasury February 19th, 1SG7, Simeon Dra- 
per reports that he received 95,000 bales of cotton. This vast 
amount only netted the government $15,000,000, when it should 
have sold for $50,000,000." 

There were also the officials of the Freedman's bureau to 
reckon with. This institution had grov/n out of the military 
occupation of the lower Mississippi Valley and the Carolina 
coast country, where large plantations and myriads of slaves 
had been left by their refugee owners. The necessity of exer- 
cising supervision over these negroes was recognized and pro- 
vided for in an Act of Congress introduced in March 1864, but 
which only passed a year later. It established a "Bureau of 
Freedmen's Affairs." General O. O. Howard, a Union corps com- 
mander of intense negro phobiac tendencies was made commis- 
sioner. His Mississippi assistant commissioner was Colonel Sam- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 241 

uel Thomas. The state was divided into three subdistricts, one 
for each of three acting assistant commissioners. 
• As the system thus provided was developed a local agent for 
each of the counties was appointed. These were usually detailed 
or discharged army officers, with a large sprinkling of Chaplains. 
To such a corps was entrusted the abandoned lands and the gen- 
eral supervision and care of the interest of the freedmen includ- 
ing that of education. Planters were reminded by an order from 
military headquarters that general order No. 34 — which minutely 
defined and prescribed the terms and treatment of negro labor 
on the "abandoned plantations" while the war was waging, was 
still in full force and effect and that "a strict compliance with it 
would be exacted." And that "the provost marshal general of 
Freedmen, will take measures to inform the planters and the 
freedmen what is expected and required of them both, each in 
his station." This was followed by a published notice in the 
Herald from Col. Stuart Eldridge, provost marshal for freed- 
men at Vicksburg, that planters were using the order abolishing 
trade permits "to evade compliance with the regulations for hir- 
ing freedmen." And that "the policy of proper treatment for 
freedmen must be respected, and any planter found without a 
certificate from this officer of having complied with the govern- 
ment regulations for hiring freedmen will be waited on by a 
guard and compelled to compliance." This was, in fact, a notice 
to the planters to come forward and be bled. To add another 
nail for the cross on which the South was being crucified, the 
Rev. Thos. W. Conway, "General Superintendent of the bureau 
of free labor," went through this and adjoining states, taking 
notes. June 3d he wrote Gen. Canby: "I have found a perfect 
reign of idleness on the part of the negroes, and persecution 
and violence on that of the whites. The bitterness of the old 
slave holders and their determination to persecute and murder 
the freedmen leaves in my heart but one solemn impression and 
that is the only means of saving them lies in the military power. 
The returned rebel soldiers are the worst. They are filled with 
a spirit of lawlessness — hate. I am pained at the scenes I wit- 
nessed along my route. I saw freedmen whose ears were cut off 

J :o rufy^ 

242 Mississippi Historical Society. 

by former slave holders. I have seen others, whose throats were 
cut and still others whose heads were mutilated in a most bar- 
, barous and shocking manner." Gen. Canby gave no heed to 
this diatribe, which was disproved by the reports and correspond- 
ence of every military commander in his department. 

Col, Rowland, commanding at Macon, Georgia, reported "the 
old system of slavery working with more rigor than formerly, 
a few miles from garrison station — the revolution being so com- 
plete and the change so radical that it seems impossible for slave- 
holders to comprehend it. . . . This feeling is confined 
principally to the formerly wealthy planters, but does not seem 
to be participated in by returned Confederate soldiers. They 
usually manifest a very kindly feeling." But such testimony only 
added to the inuammation of sentiment against the South. Com- 
ing as did all of these inflictions of hate and exactions of greed 
to a people bankrupt and crushed by the ruin and the woes of 
war, well might they repeat after the Psalmist — "Mine enemies 
hem me in on every side." 

The close of the war had not ended the depredations in the 
western counties of the state, of irregular and marauding bands of 
Confederates. Denounced and outlawed as guerrilas by com- 
manders of both sides, co-operative measures were prepared 
against them. Just before the surrender and disbandment of all 
the Confederate forces in Mississippi, April 18th, Gen. W. F. 
Tucker addressed a communication to Gen. Dana at Vicksburg. 
He said he had information that the Federal commander "was 
anxious to correct lawlessness at present so rife in Warren 
county." He proposed a joint raid against them; that he would 
send a company of mounted men to meet and co-operate with a 
like force of Union soldiers "in this work of humanity." On 
May 1st Gen. Washburn, commanding at Memphis, gave notice 
of "a guerrilla hunt" by half a dozen different bodies of cav- 
alry, of from one to two hundred each ; the country from Mem- 
phis south and east, covering several Mississippi counties, was 
to be thoroughly scoured. "People in the country will be kindly 
treated, but must be informed that if they are known to harbor 
or encourage guerrillas they shall be utterly destroyed." It was 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 243 

several months before law and order prevailed in this section of 
the state. 

Instructive and impressive light is shed on the discouraging 
and unsettled condition that prevailed in Mississippi after the 
collapse of the Confederacy, by the following communication of 
one of the local military commanders and administrators, Col. 
Forbes, of the Seventh Illinois cavalry. It was addressed to his 
superior officer, Gen. Hatch, who forwarded it to Gen. Geo. H. 
Thomas, department commander, with the endorsement, '*as an 
example under which every station throughout the district is 
laboring to a more or less extent." 

**We are in the midst of a remote populous, sensitive district, 
without instructions to guide or orders to administer, except in 
a very limited sense. Not less than a territory of 2,500 square 
miles looks to this point as its natural centre, and the fact of 
a military occupancy 'gives the people the opportunity and in a 
manner the right to expect the announcement of public policy 
and some indications of private duty in the trying ordeal through 
which this, with all other communities, are passing, I am vis- 
ited by hundreds of men asking information of vital interest, 
without being able to give more than a semi-intelligent guess 
toward solution. The needs of this region are imminent, press- 
ing, critical, and unless some action is taken commensurate with 
their importance, the most deplorable consequences are not far 
away. First and foremost, as usual, are the negroes. They are 
becoming more and more demoralized daily, notwithstanding the 
most constant and consistent efforts on the part of the military 
to enjoin industry and quiet. A large portion of the able-bodied 
are already vagrants, and more are daily becoming more so. The 
slightest friction of the home harness is enough to drive them 
into vagabondism. As soon as they cease to v^^ork they subsist 
by stealing, and even the railroad, which has been rationing and 
paying them $25 per month, cannot retain them in its employ. 
They desert ther agreements in whole gangs, always leaving in 
the night. The most trivial and childish reasons are sufficient 
to cause them to adopt courses which jeopardize not only their 
security and comfort, but even their lives. Five stout negroes 

244 Mississippi Historical Society. 

and about twenty women and children ran away en masse last 
night from a mistress who has permitted them to make their own 
living on her place for two years because one of them was an- 
gered when the mistress required him to catch and saddle a 
horse. In the night they stole her horses and clothing and came 
in here. This case is one of a hundred merely. Save as they 
fancy they are determined not to work. The vagrancy of the 
able leave the ineffective, a dead weight on the planters' hands, 
and in self-defense he thrusts these out to follow their provid- 
ers. How can he be required to feed and clothe the imbecile 
when he is not confirmed in the control of the labor needful to 
provide the means? Great things are expected from the Freed- 
men's Bureau. I expect little from it, from the fact that it will 
be unable ~to connect itself with the black masses with sufficient 
intimacy to be able to control their movements, unless practically 
every master be constituted its supervising agent, and this would 
prove to be formal revival of slavery under federal authority. 
I fear that the vital truth for the present is that the freedmen of 
these interior regions are not able to be free. For them to be 
free is for them first to beg, then to steal, and then to starve. 
The nearest superintendent of freedmen is at Meridian. He en- 
joys the dignity of captain and announces some very fine theories 
for regulation of the labor question intended, as far as I can 
learn, to effect an area of about 10,000 square miles of territory, 
every square mile of which is in a state of fermentation and be- 
coming every day more and more surcharged with gathering 
disgust and more danq-crous passions. The whites hear nothing 
of his announcements, much less the blacks. He is the party by 
whom all contracts are to be registered ; to him all the complaints 
of the negroes are to be submitted, and by him all discipline is 
to be enforced. He is 160 miles away, and needs to exercise a 
positive jurisdiction on every plantation every day; to be, in 
fact, universal overseer. The whites say, ''What shall we do if 
the blacks refuse to work?" It may be answered, "Cease to feed 
them, and if contumacious, drive them away." The reply, ''What 
if they won't go; but hide by day and steal by night?'' Answer, 
"Detect them in crime and turn them over to the courts." We 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 245 

answer, "General Thomas' recent order reestablishes the jurisdic- 
tion of the courts for the administration of the laws as in exist- 
ence prior to the act of secession." They ask, "Can we admin- 
ister our black code then?" We think not, for that contains the 
most authoritative possible recognition of slavery in all its old 
vital relations to society and law. They rejoin, "We have no 
other law." What then? What shall we do? There is but one 
reply left; it is: "Refer the matter to the nearest agent to the 
Freedmen's Bureau at Meridian." They tlien reply, "How shall 
they be restrained meanwhile during the pendency of the refer- 
ence?" And you can resort to no law but that of force again, 
which is slavery. I have grown satisfied that there is, and can 
be, no such thing as the actual immediate emancipation of a large 
mass of plantation slaves. To announce their freedom is not to 
make them free, and the continuous rigors of necessity and re- 
straints of authority, inseparable respectively from their own 
circumstances and the self-defensive action of society, consti- 
tutes essentially the substance of slaver}^ still. As federal sol- 
diers we can neither recognize slavery nor its equivalent, and 
are left helpless lookers-on, while the broken ship and the crazed 
crew are drifting on the rocks together. I see but one remedial 
plan. That is, to compel by some intimate, close-fitting system 
of prescriptions every able-bodied negro to work, the adoption 
of some appropriate rule of law for the government of the class, 
under which the courts can administer restraints and confirm 
rights, and the thorough, careful policing of the entire area of 
the slave states by mounted soldiery in support of the jurisdic- 
tion of the courts: that soldiery to be intimately subdivided and 
finally assigned to certain territorial limits. I presume that so 
comprehensive a measure will not be taken until some great and 
fatal mischief has indicated its necessity. Meanwhile, what am 
I to do, or to attempt toward restraining the vagrancy and vio- 
lence of the negroes, and the cruelty and heartlessness of the 
bad masters? Starving people are coming in from every direc- 
tion from five to sixty miles away for relief. I am clean worn 
out with their wan and haggard beggary. I would ratlier face 
an old fashioned war-time skirmish line any time than the in- 

24G Mississippi Historical Society. 

evitable morning eruption of lean and hungry widows that be- 
siege me at sun up and ply me until night with supplications that 
refuse to be silenced." 

A Methodist minister visiting Vicksburg where he had lived 
many years before wrote : 

"I have heard of privation and sorrow here until my heart is 
sick. The town is lively — a great many negro soldiers are here, 
and they throng the streets all day. A large number of Northern 
men have com.e here to open business houses, and Washington 
street looks as if much trade was being carried on. Most of the 
old residents who survived the war have come back. They are 
all poor, many of them crippled for life, but seem to be submis- 
sive to their fate. Many families have not a male member left, 
all having perished in the revolution. Dr. Charles K. Marshall 
resides here. I breakfasted with him this morning." 

Another pathetic picture of the hardship and destitution that 
prevailed after the war ended has been preserved in the report 
of Col. Dornblaser, commanding the post at Meridian, May 17th, 
1865. "The raids," he said, "on the part of our army, and the 
Confederate impressments have almost entirely stripped the coun- 
try of horses and mules, leaving citizens as well as returning 
soldiers wholly without means of planting and cultivating a crop. 
Many returned soldiers as well as citizens will have no employ- 
ment and as idleness can only be productive of evil it would cer- 
tainly be politic to adopt a remedy. I would therefore beg leave 
to suggest that all mules, horses and other property turned in by 
the Confederates be at once inspected, appraised and sold to coun- 
ty commissioners, payable at such times as the state of currency 
will make practicable, or distributed to the best advantage." This 
recommendation was supplemented by one from Capt. O. S. Cof- 
fin, quartermaster, stating that he was in possession of ''the very 
mules impressed by the Confederates from surrounding farmers 
and never paid for." Permission was asked to return such mules. 
Such expressions of sympathy and desire to relieve the distress 
of the people were common with the Northern soldiers, when 
hostile operations had ceased. 

Gen. Jno. E. Smith commanding at Memphis, in a circular or- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 247 

der, stated that he was ''daily in receipt of petitions, which the 
reports of post commanders confirm, setting forth complaints 
arising from the new relations of colored people with land owners 
and praying for his authoritative action in adjustment of difficul- 
ties. Not alone are the freedmen responsible for the state of 
tilings. The planters themselves, too reluctant to practically ac- 
cept the passing away of slavery, in numerous instances awaken 
and confirm disaffection among the negroes, which renders them 
so unfaithful and unreliable." 

May, 31, 1865, Gen. Hatch, commanding in North Mississippi 
wrote Gen. Thomas : ''Allow me to call your attention to the im- 
portance of a distinctive policy in regard to the negro. On the 
large plantations of the Tombigbee many are living in bands by 
plunder on the neighboring plantations. If they can be assured of 
being paid by the planters I think they will work for a living; or 
if assured of a fair share of the crops now growing it will pre- 
vent much suffering among them this year and keep them out of 

How could the impoverished and destitute planters pay, or give 
assurance of, anything? 

Being asked by Gen. Hatch for authority to carry out the intent 
of a considerable store of undistributed "tax in kind" corn — its 
distribution among the destitute and distressed families in North 
Mississippi — Gen. Tliomas assented. He tainted his assent, how- 
ever, by directing that *'the holders of the corn be instructed that 
they had no riglit to it whatever, and should be thankful that the 
government elects to distribute it rather than to divide what they 
had in their private possession, with the poor." 

May 22nd Thos. C. Billups, Geo. R. Clayton and 23 other cit- 
izens of Columbus addressed Gen. Grierson saying: "We have 
seen with regret that large bodies of negroes are leaving homes in 
the country and congregating in Columbus in great numbers with- 
out food or employment. Large quantities of growing crops of 
provisions and cotton now fully half cultivated will be entirely 
lost and all law and order in a great degree be destroyed. They 
will become demoralized and ready for crime and violence. 
Under the circumstances we are .constrained to place ourselves 

248 Mississippi Historical Society. 

and families under your protection, and respectfully to ask that 
you by an order properly enforced keep the negroes on the plan- 
tations. By retaining to some degree the present relations until a 
new one shall be inaugurated by the government, much of the 
evil which will necessarily follow a change will be arrested." 

The ominous outlook in the South, was given a darker hue at 
the time by the capture of the Confederate President, Jefferson 
Davis. His plan for escaping through the country and to the 
trans-Mississippi department was thwarted by the successive sur- 
renders of the Confederate armies, and the penetration of the in- 
terior by the Union cavalry. He was overtaken in Georgia and 
sent to Fortress Monroe. President Lincoln had expressed the 
wish that Mr. Davis might get away and leave the country. 
There were other Northern leaders who took the same view ; that 
to dispose of such a captive v^as sure to prove a problem and an 
embarrassment. In discussing the terms of his original conven- 
tion with Gen. Johnston, Gen. Sherman is said to have stated that 
a ship would be placed at the service of Mr. Davis, for going to 
any foreign port he might choose. But no such views were en- 
tertained by Secretary of War Stanton and the radicals. They 
saw nothing but a short trial, a sure conviction and a bloody end 
Doubtful of making out a case of treason, the monstrous accusa- 
tion of instigation of the assassination of President Lincoln was 
trumped up to render ]Mr. Davis hated and infamous with the 
Northern people and the world. This charge was formally laid 
in a proclamation offering a reward of $100,000 for his capture^ 
It was alleged in the court martial charges against the persons 
caught red handed in the assassination crime. On learning of the 
capture of the Confederate president, Stanton despatched Gen. Q, 
A. Gilmore, commanding department : 'These prisoners are to be 
dealt with as criminals of the most dangerous character. No 
consideration should control you in their secure delivery in Fort- 
ress Monroe to the officers who may be assigned." Gen. Halleck 
was ordered to repair to Fortress Monroe to "place a sullficient 
force there to secure against surprise or eft'ort at rescue or es- 
cape." And to "send away the women and children constituting 
the family of Davis. Do not permit them to go north or remain 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 249 

at Fort Monroe or Norfolk." Havinj^ doubts about Halleck for 
carrying- out liis malicious and brutal designs, Stanton sent after 
him his assistant secretary of war, C. A. Dana ; a worthy tool of 
such a master. His report, in the War Records, Series 2, Vol- 
ume 8, Page 564, is briefed as follows : 

"The arrangements for the security of the prisoners seem to me 
as complete as could be desired. Each occupies the inner room of 
a casement. The window is heavily barred. A sentry stands 
within before each of the doors leading into the outer room. The 
doors * '" * are now secured by bars fastened on the out- 
side. Two other sentries stand outside these doors. An officer is 
constantly on duty ^ * * whose duty it is to see the prison- 
ers every fifteen minutes. The outer door of all is locked on the 
outside and the key is kept exclusively by the general officer of 
the guard. Two sentries are stationed without that door. A 
strong line of sentries cuts off all access to the vicinity of the 
casemates. * * * j^e casemates on each side and between 
those occupied by the prisoners are used as guard rooms and 
soldiers are always there. A lamp is constantly kept burning in 
each of the rooms. * * * j h^ve not given orders to have 
them placed in irons, as General Halleck seems opposed to it, but 
General Miles is instructed to have fetters ready if he thinks them 

The ^'instruction" to ]\Iiles was thus expressed: ''Brevet Major 
General Miles is hereby authorized and directed to place manacles 
and fetters upon the hands and feet of Jefferson Davis and Cle- 
ment C. Qay whenever he may think it advisable in order to ren- 
der their imprisonment more secure.'' (Signed) C. A. Dana, As- 
sistant Secretary of War." 

This was followed by the shameful and crowning infamy of 
placing ^vlr. Davis in irons. The outcry it raised lead to the 
following dispatch from Washington: '*^Iajor General Miles 
will please report wliether irons have or have not been placed 
on Jefferson Davis. If they have been, when it was done, and for 
what reason, and remove them." (Signed) Edwin M. Stanton, 
Secretary of War. To this came the following reply: "Hon. Ed- 

250 Mississippi Historical Society. 

win M. Stanton: I directed anklets to be put on his (Davis') 
ankles — 'which would prevent his running, should he endeavor to 

(Signed) N. A. Miles, Brig. Gen. 

Dana's report to Stanton telling of the ''arrangements for the 
security of the prisoners," prompts the query: Escape how, or 
where to — rescue from whence and by whom? There was not a 
crevice or a rat hole of exit from the Fort Monroe double locked 
door, window barred casemate, in which the Confederate chief- 
tain was immured. Sleeping or waking he was under constant 
watch and guard. If given the freedom of the seagirt fortress, 
without the endowment of wings he could not have gained his 
liberty. He was as secure in the dungeon to which he was con- 
signed as had he been in his grave. This fact was well known 
to this trio. Stanton, Dana, Miles. Shackling their illustrious 
victim could have no other design than to torture and degrade. 

There has been controversy to this day as to the responsibility 
for placing prisoner of state Davis in irons. Yet the record here 
quoted discloses the whole plot. The last lines of Assistant Sec- 
retary of War Dana reveals that he left Washington with verbal 
order from Stanton to have Jefferson Davis shackled. As ''Hal- 
leck seemed opposed to it," Dana was admonished to provide a 
loop hole for Stanton and himself. This Gen. Miles, an am- 
bitious, rising young soldier, who was not of a character to stand 
upon scruples of conscience or right in seeking' advancement, 
furnished. To win the favor of the all powerful secretary of 
war, which Dana doubtless pledged him, he would, if called to it, 
as readily have had his prisoner — then being under foot and 
gloated over, for whom no one in all the North dared speak out 
loud — strangled and thrown in the bay. For two months after 
the shackling scene, the incidents of which can never be read 
without a feeling of abhorrence and shame, Mr. Davis was kept 
in his cell under the ''arrangements" stated in Dana's report. 
Than these there could not have been a more perfect adaptation 
for that favorite measure of torture by the Spanish inquisition, 
insomnia. Besides the constant tramp of the sentry before his 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 251 

door and "the light kept burning in the room" of one whose 
weak eyes had been a cause of suffering for years, the officer of 
the guard was required ''to see his prisoner every 15 minutes." 
The noise of guard mounting at his door every two hours further 
prevented any sleep, but that of exhaustion. He was deprived of 
the pipe which was a habit and a solace of years. When he was 
threatened with the total loss of his eye sight, or as Surgeon 
Craven reported that "there must be a change or he would go 
crazy or blind or both," the light in his cell was turned out. Af- 
ter- having been immured in a veritable underground dungeon, 
the covered gun room of a casemate two months, Gen. Miles 
"suggested the propriety of allowing him to be taken out in the 
open air occasionally, this to be done under my own supervision, 
as that seems to be the only method of requiring him to take ex- 
ercise, which he seems to avoid." After the lapse of three months 
Mr. Davis was permitted to write to his wife, solely upon family 
matters, his letters being read before being mailed by Gen. Miles 
and then the Attorney General, who forwarded them to Mrs. 
Davis. October 26 Gen. Miles in enclosing one to the Attorney 
General, wrote: "I would respectfully call your attention to the 
paragraph enclosed in brackets, namely : "For say three months 
after I was imprisoned here two hours sleep," etc. This state- 
ment is false in every particular as I know he rested and slept 
more than he says. His answer on being asked how he had slept 
was invariably, "very well." As Mr. Davis so loathed Gen. Miles 
that h^ preferred remaining in his casemate to taking the air in 
his company, he would have replied "very well" on a bed of coals, 
rather than complain to him. 

Upon the repeated representation and protest of the surgeon, 
of the effects of the air of tlie damp and unventilated cell upon 
the health of Mr. Davis, a change was ordered. But it was de- 
layed by Gen. Miles until he was directed specially to make it, 
October 3rd, when, after the summer heat was over, Mr. Davis 
was taken out of the casement, and given a room in the officers 
quarters. "The same guard" wrote Gen. Miles," "of one officer 
and ten sentinels are still kept over him." 

The sympathy of the surgeon and every officer and man at the 

252 Mississippi Historical Society. 

post brought in contact with Mr. Davis, was won by the charm 
of his manner, his uncomplaining fortitude, his native dignity 
and force of character ; all save Gen. }^Iiles. For more than a 
year he kept up his practice of annoyance, of cruel and irritating 
espionage upon his prisoner. This is all recorded in his daily 
reports to Secretary of War Stanton, by the narrative publica- 
tions of Surgeon Craven and others with personal knowledge. 
Mr. Davis told his wife, who was permitted to join him after a 
year of imprisonment, that "Gen. ^liles had exhausted his ingenu- 
ity to find something more afflicting to visit upon him. He said 
that Gen. Miles. never walked in enforced companionship upon the 
ramparts with him without saying something so offensive and in- 
sulting as to render the exercise a painful effort. 

Mr. Davis' self control was not proof at all times against the 
petty persecution, the studied torture of his coarse mannered and 
morally blunted jailor. One instance is cited. As published in 
the War of Rebellion Record, Major Muhlenberg was ordered to 
remove a piece of red tape which Gen. Miles had chanced to spy 
in Mr. Davis' room. Being required to report what occurred. 
Major ^luhlenberg narrated the following painful scene : "When 
I asked ^Iv. Davis if he had any use for the tape which Gen. 
Miles directed me to remove, he replied : "The ass ! Tell the 
damned ass that it was used to keep up the mosquito net on my 
bed. I had it in the casement and he knew it. The miserable 
ass !'' This was reported to Secretary of War Stanton, by Gen. 
Miles with the statement that he was led to believe by Mr. Davis' 
rage that he "desired it for improper purposes." This elicited 
Stanton's thanks, with the injunction that "there could not be too 
much vigilance at time, and that care should be taken in ref- 
erence to any of the ofricers who may have undue feelings in favor 
of the prisoner." 

Upon publication of Dr. Cooper's narrative report, in August. 
186G, there was an outburst of indignation and denunciation, of 
disgust and horror, in Northern papers that compelled the atten- 
tion of the President to the case of Mr. Davis and Gen. Miles. 
Secretary McCulloch was requested by Mr. Johnson to go to 
Fortress Monroe and personally inquire into the fact of the re- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 253 

ports about the treatment of Mr. Davis. "I listened silently," re- 
ported Mr. McCuUough, *'to his statement; but I felt as he did. 
tha't he had for a time been barbarously treated." Soon there- 
after President Johnson ordered a change of commanders at the 
fort. Gen. Miles, with a taste for his post as jailor, remonstrated 
to Secretary Stanton and begged that the order be held up. He 
complained bitterly that the President had ordered him away 
from Fortress ^lonroe because of his treatment of Davis. He 
wrote that he was the victim of the "base slanders and foulest 
accusations of the disloyal press. I am ready to vindicate my 
course to all honorable men, and as far as the confinement of Jef- 
ferson Davis is concerned, he has received better treatment than 
any other government would have given him." The story of the 
personal indignities inflicted upon Jefferson Davis has not and 
never will be "vindicated to honorable men." Not in modern 
times and in civilized nations has any such "treatment" been 
practiced on a prisoner of state, except French "terrorists." Only 
in barbaric times are there to be found precedents for the "course" 
of General Miles. And in after years, risen to the coveted emi- 
nence, and better versed in the weight of the moral equations of 
life, his sin has found him out. He has cowered under and sought 
to escape the Xessus shirt he donned so free of care in his youth. 
Even as Stanton and Dana tried to escape at his cost, so has he 
since vainly plead the mitigation of obedience to orders. As to 
the responsibility, the verdict of the eternal verities is that all 
three were equally, inexpiably, guilty of bringing enduring shame 
on the nation — of doing that which no man. not the most ultra 
South hater, has ever defended or apologized for. 

Tliough out of its chronological order, the story of Jefferson 
Davis is continued. In December, 1865, the senate, impatient 
over the delay "in making treason odious," by resolution enquired 
"on what charges or for what reasons, Jefferson Davis was still 
held in confinement, and why he has not been put on his trial." 
In response President Johnson transmitted reports of the Secre- 
tary of War, and the Attorney General. The former alleged that 
the indictment of Mr. Davis for high treason was pending in the 
court of the District of Columbia. And that he was "also charged 


254 Mississippi Historical Society. 

with inciting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and with 
the murder of Union prisoners of war by starvation and other 
ba.rbarous and cruel treatment toward them ;" and that "the 
President deeming it expedient that Jefferson Davis should first 
be put upon his trial before a competent court and jury for the 
crime of treason, he was advised by the law officers of the govern- 
ment that the most proper place for such trial was in the state of 
Virginia." The report of the Attorney General contended that 
"trials for high treason cannot be had before a mihtary tribunal." 
He concluded as follows : "When the courts are open and the laws 
can be peacefully administered in those states whose people re- 
belled against the government * * * the prisoner now held 
in military custody * * * should be transferred into the cus- 
tody of the civil authorities of the proper districts to be tried for 
such crimes as may be alleged against them. I think that it is 
the plain duty of the President to cause criminal prosecutions to 
be instituted. * * * j should regard it as a direful calamity 
if many whom the sword has spared, the law should spare also. 
But I would deem it a more direful calamity still if the executive 
* * * in bringing those prisoners before the bar of justice 
should violate the plain meaning of the constitution in the least 
particular." Plainly Attorney General Speed wished to go about 
the murder of Jefferson Davis under all the formalities of law 
and precedent. 

A few days later, January lOth, 1866, the house adopted a reso- 
lution asking for "such reports among others as have been made 
by the bureau of military justice as to the grounds, facts or ac- 
cusations upon which Jcff'crson Davis (et al.) are held in confine- 
ment." This brought out a long report from the official to whom 
the task of making out the case of inciting the assassination of 
Mr. Lincoln had been entrusted ; Judge Advocate General Joseph 
Holt. Having been successful in hanging Mrs. Surratt and Capt. 
Wirz under drum head trial, he had set himself to the higher 
charge of placing the noose around the neck of Jefferson Davis. 
He proved both eager and fitted to his assignment — it was 
through no fault of his that there was failure. The report re- 
ferred to states that the military commission which tried and con- 



War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 255 

victed Mr. Lincoln's assassins ''arrived at the deliberate judg- 
ment also, and so declared, that Davis was directly implicated in 
their crime and giiilty with them of the murder of the President." 
This was followed by a recapitulation of the evidence, prepared 
and presented to the commission by Judge Advocate General 
Holt, which he bolstered with all the fertility of the advocate 
trained "to make the worse appear the better reason." The re- 
port concluded as follows : 

"Impressed by the force of these proofs, which still exist and 
are within the reach of the government, I have entertained the 
opinion that Davis should be put upon his trial before a military 
commission such as condemned his alleged confederates in guilt — 
such a tribunal alone, in my judgment having jurisdiction of the 
offense, which was committed in aid of the rebellion and in viola- 
tion of the laws and usages of war. My conviction is complete 
that the punishment of the wretched hirelings of Davis, some of 
whom have been sent to the gallows and some to the penitentiary, 
has made no sufficient atonement for this monstrous crime against 
humanity, but that on the contrary the blood of the President is 
still calling to us from the ground for justice." This is a plain 
averment of the murder plot contrived, which was only thwarted 
by the precedence given the civil law trial of treason. 

The "proofs" on which Holt demanded the conviction of jMr. 
Davis consisted of a chain of alleged circumstances and unsub- 
stantiated statements that bore falsehood and perjury so plainly, 
that his malevolent and blood thirsty report reacted in a wave of 
popular disgust and horror which overwhelmed and buried him 
in a sea of odium he never recovered from. This report is re- 
corded on pages 847 — 855 of the official War Records, serial 
No. 121. To break the force of popular condemnation. July 3d 
Holt made report of his correspondence and communication with 
Sanford Conover, his chief procurer of witnesses and evidence, 
who had "repented." and sold the story of the plot to the N. Y. 
Herald. This is conta'ned in the same volume, pages 931-945. 
Its purpose is declared in the following conclusion: "The history 
of Sanford Conover's agency and its results has been given thus 
circumstantially in order that you may discard the testimony pro- 

256 Mississippi Historical Society. 

duced by him from consideration, and also that you may under- 
stand under what constant encouragements and apparently trust- 
worthy avenues the enquiry committed to his hands was continued 
on my part." Acknowl edging- that he had been misled by pre- 
pared statements, for which Conover was indicted, did not relieve 
Judge Advocate General Holt from the public scourge. Indeed 
his repudiation and persecution of Conover drew forth the counter 
assertion that Holt had suborned his witness into his false 
statements, and that he had sought to prevent the exposure of the 
fabrication. Writins: under the execration he had drawn down 
on his head, the Judge Advocate. General complained to Stanton 
of "a base endeavor through the disloyal press acting in the in- 
terest of Jefferson Davis and the rebellion" to so convict him ; 
''charges of the utmost gravity affecting my ofticial integrity and 
conduct have been preferred against me before the country that 
I suborned testimony which secured the conviction of Mrs. Sur- 
ratt, and that I united with Conover in the fabrication of evidence 
of the complicity of Jefferson Davis in the assassination of Presi- 
dent Lincoln." At the close of this complaint Holt asked for a 
court of enquiry. This was denied him in an indorsement, for the 
reason that the President was "entirely satisfied with the honesty 
and fidelity of the Judge Advocate General, in which view the 
Secretary of War fully concurs." But public opinion was not 
shaken out of the fixed belief of Holt's guilt. His part in the 
wxked and shameful chapter was held to be all the more infam- 
ous in that he was a Southern renegade. He had in former years 
lived in Mississippi, where he had won prominence and fortune 
at the Vicksburg bar. He was postmaster general when the 
other three of Buchanan's four Southern cabinet members re- 
signed. Holt was then made secretary of war. In the closing 
months of Buchanan's administration he showed the proverbial 
zeal of the apostate, and great talent besides, in the initial war 
preparations. He subsequently, as judge advocate general, 
worked in complete harmony with the vindictive and saturnine 
Secretary of War Stanton. And like him he went to his grave 
wretched and abhorred — as the contriver of the murder of an in- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 257 

nocent woman, he lives in history '*a fixed figure for the time of 
scorn to point his slow unmoving- finger at." 

Holt was regarded by President Johnson, according to the 
Welles' diary, with extreme aversion ; as ''cruel and remorseless, 
that his tendencies and conclusions were very bloody. All of his 
decisions partook of the traits of Nero and Draco." Welles 
agreed that Holt was "severe and unrelenting. He is credulous 
and often the dupe of his own imaginat-'on, believes men guilty 
on shadowy suspicions and condemns them without trial. Stan- 
ton has sometimes brought forward singular papers relating to 
conspiracies, and dark and murderous dangers in which he has 
faith and Holt has assured him in his suspicions." 

More proof of the Davis murder plot may be read in a letter 
from General Carl Schurz to the president, and published in the 
Schurz reminiscences. It is quoted : "Permit me to avail myself 
of the privilege you gave me to write to you whenever I had any- 
thing worthy of communication to suggest. A few days ago I 
found it stated in the papers that the trial of the conspirators 
was to be conducted in secret. I did not believe it until now I see 
it confirmed. I do not hestitate to say that this measure strikes 
me as very unfortunate and I am not surprised to find it quite 
generally disapproved. * * * When the government charged, 
before the whole w^orld, the chiefs of the rebellion w^ith having 
instigated the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, it took upon itself 
the grim obligation to show that this charge was based upon evi- 
dence sufficient to bear it out. I am confident you would not 
have ventured upon this step had you not such evidence in your 
possession. But the government is bound to lay it before the 
world in a manner which will command the respect even of the in- 
credulous. You will admit that a military commission is an an- 
omaly in the judicial system of this republic; still, I w^ill not 
question here its propriety in times of extraordinary dangers. At 
all events, to submit this case to a military commission — a case in- 
volving in so pointed a manner the credit of the government — 
was perhaps the utmost stretcli of power upon which the govern- 
ment could venture without laying itself open to the imputation 
of unfair play. But an order to have such a case tried by a mili- 

258 Mississippi Historical Society. 

tary commission behind closed doors, thus establishing a secret 
tribunal, can hardly fail to damage the cause of the government 
most seriously in the opinion of mankind. This is the most im- 
portant state trial this country ever had. The whole civilized 
world will scrutinize its proceedings with the utmost interest, and 
it will go far to determine the opinion of mankind as to the char- 
acter of our institutions." 

General Schurz wrote President Johnson that he did not per- 
ceive what was to be gained by secrecy. But he explains it in 
the following from his own comment: "The evidence of Jeffer- 
son Davis' com.plicity in the as.sassination of Lincoln, which 
President Johnson had in his possession when he issued his proc- 
lamation offering a reward for Davis' capture, subsequently turned 
out to be absolutely worthless." Nothing but a secret trial could 
be relied upon for conviction on "worthless evidence." 

The student of history is brought closer to the inner motive of 
events by the "Diary of the Reconstruction Period," by Secretary 
of the Navy Gideon Welles. Of the cabinet meeting of July 21st 
he wrote: "Chief subject was the oft'ense and disposition of J. 
Davis. The President, it was evident was for procuring a discus- 
sion or the views of the cabinet." Plere follows the respective 
views of the cabinet members. Stanton v/as thus quoted : 

"Stanton was for a trial by the courts for treason — the highest 
of crimes — and by the constitution. Only the courts could try 
him for that offense. Otherwise he would say a military com- 
mission. For all other offenses he would arraign him before the 
military commission. Subsequently, after examining the consti- 
tution, he retracted the remark that the constitution made it im- 
perative that the trial for treason should be in the civil courts, 
yet he did not withdraw the preference he had expressed. I was 
emphatically for the civil court and an arraignment for treason — 
for an early institution of proceedings — and was v/illing the trial 
should take place in \'irginia." 


"The question of counsel and the institution of proceedings was 
discussed. In order to get the sense of -each of the members, the 
President thought it would be v/ell to have the matter presented in 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 259 

a distinct form. Seward promptly proposed that Jefferson Davis 
should be tried for treason, assassination, murder, conspiring to 
burn cities, etc., by a military commission. The question was so 
put, Seward and Harlan voting for it — the others against, with 
the exception of myself. The President asked my opinion. I 
told him I did not like the form in which the question was put. I 
would have him tried for military offenses by a military court, 
but for civil offenses I wanted the civil courts. I thought he 
should be tried for treason, and it seemed to me that the question 
before us should first be the crime and then the court. The others 
assented and the question put was, shall J. D. be tried for treason? 
There was a unanimous response in the affirmative. Then the 
question as to the court. Dennison moved a civil court — all but 
Seward and Harlan were in the affirmative. They were in the 

Stanton voted in the affirmative of the Welles motion, because 
in his heart he had resolved that there should be no occasion for 
a trial in the civil courts. He designed that there should be first 
the secret trial under the assassination charge, before a military 
court constituted to convict. 

In "Men and Measure of Half a Century," Hugh MacCulloch, 
Secretary of the Treasury, has the following: "The legal ques- 
tion, has Mr. Davis been guilty of such acts of treason that he 
can be success fuly prosecuted? w^as submitted to Attorney Gen- 
eral Speed, who, after a thorough examination of it and consulta- 
tion with some of the ablest lawyers of the country, came to the 
conclusion that Mr. Davis could not be convicted of treason by 
any competent and independent tribunal, and that therefore he 
ought not to be tried. * * * The President was chagrined 
by the decision, which was enforced upon the opinions of the At- 
torney General and other eminent lawyers. He was committed 
by his vindictive speeches made at the commencement of his ad- 
ministration, but he saw the correctness of it and from that time 
published his generosity to those whom he had denounced as 
traitors to an extreme." 

May, ISHG. Mr. Davis was indicted in the Federal court at Rich- 
mond, for treason. But he was neither given a trial nor admitted 

j^ n 

2C)0 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to bail. As his conviction was not possible, his trial was denied; 
the influence of the prosecution was centered upon keeping him 
in prison. To bolster up Stanton and Holt, a resolution was 
passed in the house upon motion of Geo. S. Boutwell, of Massa- 
chusetts, that he should be held in custody until tried. At the 
expiration of his second year of incarceration at Fortress Monroe. 
May. ISCu, he was admitted to bail — a plain confession of the 
government that it had no case against him ; Horace Greeley and 
Gerritt Smith, prominent abolitionists among others signing the 
appearance bond on which Mr. Davis was at last released. The 
following December his case was called and argued, and resulted 
in a mistrial on a motion to quash the indictment; Oiief Justice 
Chase who was sitting in tlie case, being for the motion, and Dis- 
trict Judge Underwood against it. 

The two elements of encouragement and strength to a sorely 
stricken state in this interim betv.-een the surrender of the armies 
and the restoration of civil government, were the returned 
soldiers and the kindly, sympathetic sentiment of the Federal mil- 
itary commanders and, as a rule, the subordinate officers and 
their men of the Lamson command^. But the rejoicing, comfort- 
ing feeling inspired by the home coming of the men of the dis- 
banded armies was darkened by the sorrow, the unappeasable loss 
of those who had fallen in battle or died of disease. This formed 
a chronicle of pathos and tragedy that entered every household. 
The full extent, the total of this war tax upon the youth of the 
state has never been accurately statt-d. tliough the exliausting 
drain of priceless blood may be approximated from the material 
at hand. In February, ISG-I. the Confederate congress passed an 
act to aid any state in perfecting the records concerning its troops 
in the Confederate army. Subsequently th.e state passed a corres- 
ponding act creating the ofhce of superintendent of army records 
in the state : to "collect and place in a form for pennanent preser- 
vation and reference the names of all Mississippians in the Con- 
federate service," et cet. 

For the performance of this historically important labor Gov- 
ernor Clark appointed Col. J. L. Power. He proceeded to the Mis- 
sissippi command in tlie \'irginia army in Dtvembcr, lSb4, and 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 261 

was engaged in listing and tabulating them from that time until 
interrupted by the field operations that ended in the surrender at 
Appomattox. At the time his labors were thus broken in upon 
Col. Power had made a complete roster of the Griffith-Barksdale- 
Humphreys Brigade of four regiments, from which the following 
totals are quoted: 

Whole number enrolled 5,615 

Killed or died of wounds 833 

Died of disease 761 

Total dead 1,594 

The rolls of thirty-one of the forty companies of the Davis- 
Stone Brigade were also listed, from which the following is 
taken : 

Whole number enrolled 3,792 

Killed or died of wounds 502 

Died or disease 463 

Total dead 965 

There remained on the rolls of the former of these two com- 
mands, after deducting the discharged from wounds, etc., at the 
close of the war, 1,544 men, rank and file, and on the rolls of the 
thirty-one companies of the other 1,190. Deducting from these 
totals the absent, in Northern prison, on detail or furlough, the 
much greater number being prisoners of war, there were left to 
answer bugle call of officers and men in the first of tlie two 
commands only 400, and in the other 500. These remnants were, 
as organizations, totally destroyed in the last fighting, in tlie Pet- 
ersburg defences and on the retreat to Appomattox. The third 
of the Mississippi Virginia Brigades shared much the same fate. 

The following further matter is quoted from this report, which 
was submitted by Col. Power to Governor Humphreys, and by 
him to the legislature in October, 1SG5 : 

"From this and other data in my possession, I have thought it 


2G2 Mississippi Historical Society. 

might be interesting to deduce something like an approximate es- 
timate of the total strength and losses of the troops furnished by 
'the state of Mississippi — making in the aggregate about sixty- 
three regiments of all arms : 

Whole number in service , 78,000 

Died of disease 15,500 

Killed and died of wounds 12,000 

Discharged, resigned, released 19,000 

Deserted or dropped 11,000 

Missing 250 

Transferred to other commands 1,500 

Total loss from all causes 59,250 

Balance accounted for 18,750 

It is an eternal pity that the recommendation accompanying Col. 
Power's report for completion of his work, for making up the 
records of all the Mississippi troops, was not acted upon. But so 
absorbing were the immediate demands of the prostrate state upon 
the legislature that assembled in 1865, so weighed upon was the 
provisional government by the difficult and perplexing cares of 
the people, that there was no room for consideration of even so 
patriotic and sacred a cause as that of preserving the records of 
the war. The number estimated of killed, or mortally wounded 
in "battle, 13,000, is undoubtedly over stated. This seems calcu- 
lated on the percentage of the twelve regiments of infantry in the 
Virginia army, some of which Col. Power has tabulated as quoted 
from, their available field rolls. It is common knowledge, how- 
ever, that few, if any other regiments suffered near so heavily. 
But estimating those who died in battle at a fourth less than 12,- 
000, this with the 15.500 who died of disease, was a fearful de- 
pletion of the youth of the state. And of the 19,000 "discharged, 
resigned or dropped,'' the greater portion were disabled for life 
from wounds. The "deserted or dropped" constituted the dodg- 
ers and shirkers — men whose hearts grew faint after one or two 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 2G3 

or three years service. Their case is thus stated in the report of 
Col. Power: 

*'Our reverses of the last two years of the war, the desponden- 
cy, speculation and extortion of money of our people at home, the 
inability of the government to pay the troops promptly, or to fur- 
nish anything like adequate supplies of food or clothing, the abso- 
lute destitution of many families of soldiers, and toward the last 
the seeming hopelessness of the struggle, all conspired to de- 
press the soldiers' hearts, and caused thousands to retire from the 
service when there was greatest need for their services." 

Of the "balance accounted for," of the 18,750, who had been 
faithful to the end, they came straggling home after the Appo- 
mattox surrender in early April, to the mid-summer days ; ac- 
cording to when they were paroled in the field or released from 
Northern prisons. If the prodigals ''fatted calf" was often denied 
them, the rejoicing on the home return of these sons of the "way- 
ward sisters" made amends for all. Fortunately they brought 
home something else besides the hero's laurels. In their four 
years tutelage under perils and privations of the camp, the field, 
the prison, they had been taught life's hardest lessons ; "learned to 
labor and to wait." While there were "fallen angels," it was 
the Confederate soldiers, so long as their numbers dominated the 
counsels and policies of the state, who tinted post bellum history 
with a fleeting renaissance of the virtues and the glories of the 
old South. 

-The contrast in the home-coming of the two armies, in the do- 
mestic conditions awaiting them, at the close of the war was 
marked. On the side of the North it was a triumph, with the 
South it was a tragedy of darkest tint. The Union hosts returned 
to the paths of peace with banners flying, trumpets peeling the 
notes of victory and gladness, crowds cheering and showering 
them with gifts. The thin grey line dissolved into straggling 
groups of dejected, despondent men. Foot sore and travel 
stained, they wended their way homeward where want and pov- 
erty, sorrow and affliction awaited them. But let the contrast o^ 
sections be spoken by the tongue of eloquence. 

264 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The following extract is from a speech delivered by Henry W. 
Grady of Atlanta, Ga., before the New England Glub in New 
York on Dec. 21, 188G, following a speech by Rev. T. DeWitt 
Talmadge, the great preacher and orator. No truer pen pic- 
ture of the Confederate soldier was ever drawn. 

"Dr. Talmadge has drawn for you with a master's hand, the 
picture of your returning armies. He has told you how, in the 
pomp and circumstance of war, they came back to you, marching 
with proud victorious tread, reading their glory in a nation's eyes ! 
Will you bear with me while I tell you of another army that 
sought its home at the close of the late war — an army that 
marched home in defeat and not in victory — in pathos and not 
in splendor, but glory that equaled yours, and to hearts as loving 
as ever welcomed heroes home. Let me picture to you the foot- 
sore Confederate soldier, as buttoning up in his faded gray jacket 
the parole which w^as to bear testimony to his children of his fi- 
delity and faith, he turned his face southward from Appomattox 
in April, 1865. Think of him as ragged, half starved, heavy- 
hearted, enfeebled by want and wounds, having fought to exhaus- 
tion, he surrenders his gun, wrings the hands of his comrades in 
silence, and lifting his tear-stained and pallid face for the last 
time to the graves that dot old Virginia hills, pulls his gray cap j 

over his brow and begins the slow and painful journey. What I 

does he find — let me ask you who went to your homes eager to 
find in the welcome you had justly earned, full payment for four 
years' sacrifice — what does he find when, having followed the 
battle-stained cross against over-whelming odds, dreading death 
not half so much as surrender, he reaches the home he left so 
prosperous and beautiful? He finds his house in ruins, his farm 
devastated, his slaves free, his stock killed, his barns empty, his 
trade destroyed, his money worthless, his social system, feudal 
in its magnificence, swept away; his people without law or legal 
status, his comrades slain, and the burdens of others heavy on 
his shoulders. Crushed by defeat, his very traditions gone, with- 
out money, credit, employment, material, or training; and be- 
side all this, confronted with the gravest problem that ever met 
human intellicrencc — the establishment of a status for the vast 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 2G5 

body of his liberated slaves. What does he do — this hero in gray 
with a heart of gold? Does he sit down in sullenness and de- 
spair? Not for a day. Surely God, who had strapped him of 
his prosperity, inspired him in his adversity. As ruin was never 
before so overwheming, never was restoration swifter. The 
soldier stepped from the trenches into the furrow ; horses that had 
charged Federal guns marched before the plow, and fields that ran 
red with human blood in April were green with the harvest in 
June ; women reared in luxury with a patience and heroism that 
fit women always as a garment, gave their hands to work. There 
was little bitterness in all this. Cheerfulness and frankness pre- 

Under the environments of war's aftermath the state lost 
thousands of her remaining young men. A few went to South 
and Central America, mostly to return. The many that sought 
their fortunes in Texas and the West, were permanently lost to 
Mississippi. By a state census the next year an actual loss of 
population was shown as follows : 

White 1860 353,899 

" 1866 343,400 

Decrease 1866 10,499 

Negroes 1860 437,404 

1860 ____381,218 

Decrease 56,146 

There was an increase of population from the Northern sol- 
diers who remained to make their homes in the state after their 
regiments were mustered out, and of men who were tempted to 
locate here by the high price of cotton. These with the birth rates 
probably offset in numbers the war losses. It is entirely within 
the bounds of reason to assume a migration loss equal to the dif- 
ference between the totals of 1S60 and 1S66. The negro decrease 
is easily accounted for. Over twenty thousand had been enlisted 
in the Union army — probably as many more were employed in 

2()6 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the army and navy in the various labors of the camp and marine 
service. Most of the regiments were mustered out in the state 
though some were sent West. The army death rate was exces- 
sive. A report in the war records series III, vol, IV, page 669, 
reads : 

"In the casualties among the colored troops the most striking 
feature is the excessive proportion of deaths by disease. The ratio 
is no less than 141.39 per thousand, while the general volunteer 
ratio is 59.22; the highest (Iowa) being 111.02. The disparity 
is the more remarkable because the colored troops were not so 
severely exposed to the hardships of field service proper." Thous- 
ands of negroes were moved out of the state, to Alabama and 
Texas, when the state was invaded and the river counties con- 
quered. Many of them never returned. Another cause of the de- 
crease in population was the heavy death rate among the thous- 
ands who led lives of vagrancy and exposure the year after the 

The surrender of the armies of the Confederacy and the occu- 
pation of the subjugated states having been completed, Presi- 
dent Johnson was brought face to face with the problem of the 
restoration of civil authority in the South. He at once realized the 
embarrassment of the embraces of the radicals, already intent up- 
on forcing the bitter pill of negro political equality upon the 
Southern people as a condition precedent to receiving their states 
back in the Union. At first they seem to have been confident of 
the sympathy and support of the President. In this expectation 
they were destined to disappointment. The President was not 
averse to hanging a few of the leaders, Jefferson Davis at least, 
whom he hated. But he balked at going further. Fully imbued 
with "poor white" color repugnance, he revolted from negro suf- 
frage. This issue which was to prove the apple of national politi- 
cal discord, was first threshed out in the cabinet. Plow closely 
it followed on the close of the war is told in the recently published 
Diary of Reconstruction," by Secretary of the Navy Gideon 
Willes. Of a cabinet meeting May 9th, 18G5, he wrote: "The 
condition of North Carolina was taken up. and a general plan of 
organization intended for all the rebel states submitted and de- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 267 

bated. No great difference of opinion was expressed, except on 
the matter of negro suffrage. Stanton, Dennison and Speed 
were for negro suffrage, McCulloch, Usher and myself were op- 
posed. It was agreed on request of Stanton, we would not dis- 
cuss the question, but each express his opinion without prelimin- 
ary debate. * * * 

**Stanton has changed his position — has been converted — is now 
for negro suffrage. These were not his views a short time since." 
Mr. Welles himself at this meeting declared for "adhering to the 
rule prescribed in President Lincoln's proclamation," and for "no 
further subversion of the laws, institutions and usages of the 
states respectively, nor for (more) intermeddling in local matters 
than is absolutely necessary." In the following Mr. Welles clear- 
ly stated the trend of the question, and doubtless voiced the views 
of President Johnson and Secretary Seward: "The question of 
negro suffrage is beset with difficulties, growing out of the con- 
flict through which we have passed and the current sympathy 
for the colored race," he wrote. "The demagogues will make 
use of it regardless of what is best for the country. 
There is a fanaticism on the subject with some, who persuade 
themselves that the cause of liberty and the Union is with the 
negro and not with the white man. White men, and especially 
Southern white men, are tyrants. Senator Sumner is riding this 
one idea at top speed. There are others less sincere than Sum- 
ner, who are pressing the question for party purposes. . . . 
No one can claim that the blacks, in the slave states especially, 
can exercise the elective franchise intelligently. In most of the 
free states they are not permitted to vote. Is it politic and wise, 
or even right, when trying to restore peace and reconcile differ- 
ences, to make so radical a change, provided we have the author- 
ity, which I deny?" 

^'There is an apparent determination among ingrained aboli- 
tionists to compel the government to impose conditions on the 
rebel states that are unwarranted. Prominent men are striving 
to establish a party on the basis of equality of the race^ in the 
rebel states for which the people are not prepared. Perhaps they 
never will be, for these very leaders do not believe in social 

268 Mississippi Historical Society. 

equality nor will they practice it. Mr. Sumner, who is an un- 
married man, has striven to overcome what seems a natural re- 
pugnance." Thad Stevens, who shared the leadership of the 
''ingrained abolitionists," with Qiarles Sumner, was too, an 
unmarried man striving to overcome" the same ''natural repug- 
nance," through negro concubinage. 

The feud between President Johnson and Secretary of War 
Stanton that was destined to be the centre of national politics, 
and of a heat and bitterness beyond all comparison, was yet in 
the bud. But it was being talked of to such an extent that on 
June 15th Stanton gave out a contradiction, through the Wash- 
ington Chronicle. In it he declared that the relations between 
himself and the President were of "the most cordial and friendly, 
agreeable and confidential character; and that there had been 
no disagreement, difference or dispute much less a collision." 

In a letter to an Iowa friend Secretary Harlan, of the interior, 
thus stated the President's attitude on the negro suffrage issue: 
"I beg leave respectfully to state that you misapprehend the po- 
sition of President Johnson, and my own, as well as that of the 
Union party at large. The real question at issue, in a national 
point of view, is not whether negroes shall be permitted to vote, 
but whether they shall derive that authority from the National 
Government, or from the state governments respectively." 

The factious battle was drawn on this line. ''Radical senators 
and representatives immediately urged the importance of in- 
cluding freedmcn in reorganizing electorates." (Vide Dunning's 
"Reconstruction," page 37). 

Light is thus shed on the President's standing with the radical 
leaders at this juncture, by the historian Rhodes' Vol. 5, page 
522 : "While Johnson was talking in public at random he was 
in private giving the Radicals false hopes of negro suffrage. 
Chief Justice Chase and Sumner were earnest for the immedi- 
ate enfranchisement of the freedmen * * * During the first 
month of his administration they had many interviews with him, 
pressing the matter which they had at heart and were always 
listened to with attention and even sympathy. Writing to John 
Bright, Sumner said: 'My theme is justice to the colored race. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 269 

Johnson accepted this idea completely and indeed went so far as 
to say 'that there is no difference between us. He deprecates 
haste — thinks there must be a period of probation, but that mean- 
while all loyal people, without distinction of color must be treated 
as citizens and must take part in any proceedings for reorgani- 
zation." But as no words of Johnson are stated in affirmance 
of the position Senator Sumner gives him, it is more than rea- 
sonable to believe that the ^Massachusetts negro-phobiac assumed 
more than the truth warranted. From page 524, Vol. 5, Rhodes' 
History, Stanton's testimony before the impeachment investiga- 
tion is quoted: "The question of negro suffrage came up (in 
the cabinet) May 9th when Secretary Stanton submitted a re- 
vision of the draft of a plan which had been discussed April 14 
by Lincoln and his advisers. This provided that all "loyal citi- 
zens" might participate in the election of delegates to the state 
convention to be called for the adoption of a new state consti- 
tution. What is meant by "loyal citizens," was asked by Secre- 
tary Welles?" "Negroes as well as white, men," was the reply. 
Upon expression of opinion, Stanton, Dennison and Speed 
declared for negro suffrage. McCulloch, Welles and Usher main- 
tained that this was beyond the power of the Federal govern- 
ment, Welles arguing that President Lincoln and his cabinet 
had agreed that "the question of suffrage belonged to the states." 
Johnson expressed no opinion, but took the matter into "thought- 
ful and careful consideration." 

The fact that three members of the cabinet had come to favor 
the imposition of negro suffrage upon the Southern states as 
early as May 9th. 1865, as a condition of their re-admission to 
the Union, indicated the quick and dangerous upgrowth of rad- 
icalism. A year before, as will be shown on a following page, 
while the South was yet unconquered, only a single cabinet mem- 
.ber had favored the odious and revolutionary action. A year 
before congress had passed and President Lincoln had approved 
a law prescribing the terms upon which the people of the se- 
ceded states could reorganize their governments and resume their 
places in the Union, after resistance to the Federal authority had 
ceased. There was in that law no provision or suggestion of 

270 Mississippi Historical Society. 

subverting this power of the states — to prescribe quaUfications 
for their electorates — no hint or threat of the odious and revolt- 
ing outrage of negro suffrage. With but two opposing votes 
the senate had adopted a resolution at the beginning of the war, 
July 22nd, 1861, that "war is not waged upon our part in any 
spirit of oppression nor for any purpose of conquest or subju- 
gation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with 
the rights or established institutions of these (the seceded) 
states, but to maintain the supremacy of the constitution with all 
the dignity, equality and rights of the several states unimpaired." 
In 1864 state governments were organized in Louisiana and Ar- 
kansas under President Lincoln's plan and order, and through 
conventions chosen by the white voters only. After these shams 
on statehood had been effected President Lincoln wrote Provi- 
sional Governor Hahn thus guardedly, as to negro suffrage: 
"Now you are about to have a convention which among other 
things will define the elective franchise, I freely suggest for your 
private consideration whether some of the colored people may 
not be let in — as for instance the very intelligent, and especially 
those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. But this is only 
a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone." The situation 
was now changed. A degrading infliction that was not thought 
of when the South was defended by her armies, when the result 
of the war hung suspended in the balance, was vengefully de- 
manded when she was prostrate and supplicating. That the un- 
patriotic and revengeful conspiracy was foreseen, and detected, 
by Mr. Lincoln is revealed in the accoimt by Secretary 
Welles of the last cabinet meeting, thus quoted in Rhodes, 
page 137, Vol. V: Friday, April 14, Lincoln held his last 
cabinet meeting. General Grant was present. * * * mat- 
ters of routine were disposed of and then the subject of re- 
construction was taken up. After some discussion the President 
said: "I think it providential that this great rebellion is crushed 
out just as congress has adjourned and there are none of the 
disturbing elements of that body to hinder and embarrass us. If 
We are wise and discreet we shall reunite the states and get their 
governments in successful operation, with order prevailing and 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 271 

the union re-established before congress comes together in De- 
cember. * * * I hope there will be no persecution, no 
bloody work after the war is over. No one need expect me to 
take any part in hanging or killing these men, even the worst 
of them. * * * Enough lives have been sacrificed. We must 
extinguish our resentments if we expect harmony and union. 
There is too much of a desire on the part of some of our good 
friends to be masters, to interfere with and dictate to those 
states, to treat the people not as fellow citizens. There is too 
. little respect for their rights. I do not sympathize in these 
feelings." '^' * * He said at the close of the meeting, "re- 
construction is the great question pending and we must now be- 
gin to act in the interests of reason. 

The new irrepressible conflict ever the radical policy of re- 
. construction based on negro suffrage outcropped long before the 
surrender. It was given concrete form when President Lincoln 
through the militarj^ commander of Louisiana, as above stated, 
organized a state civil government-; as when the question of 
recognizing this creation came up in the senate the issue around 
which the storm was destined to rage was raised. The opposi- 
tion to the resolution of recognition consisted of a small body of 
Republicans and the Democratic senators. The position of the is thus stated in Rhodes' History, page 55: 'The im- 
portance of this debate lies in the opposition of Sumner to a 
plan matured by Lincoln. The two most influential men in pub- 
lic life were at variance. * * * The serious difference be- 
tween the President and the senator lay in the senator's insist- 
ence that the suffrage should be conferred upon the negroes on 
the same conditions as on the whites before the state should be 
received back into the Union." This ''serious difference" in the 
Lincoln and the Radical view of reconstruction again came to 
the surface when he visited Richmond, the day after its occu- 
pation by the Union army. In an interview with Judge J. A. 
Campbell he gave the former justice of the United States su- 
preme court a memorandum of the terms of peace; disbandment 
of all the Confederate armies, restoration of the national author- 
ity, and recognition of the emancipation of the slaves. Under 

272 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the influence of the array of opposition he met from his cabinet 
and radical congressmen this memorandum, and a permit issued 
to the military commander at Richmond for the assembly of 
members of the Virginia legislature to act under it, were with- 
drawn. But the record of Lincoln's plan of reconstruction is ta 
be read in the incident nevertheless. It was yet again revealed 
in his memorable address in Washington, four days before his 
assassination, which is quoted : "By the recent surrenders re- 
construction is pressed much more clearly upon our attention. 
It is fraught with great difficulty >;= * * Jslor is it a small 
additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, dififer among 
ourselves as to the mode, micans and measures of reconstruction. 
As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attack 
upon niys>elf. In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to 
my knowledge that I am much censured from some supposed 
agency in setting and seeking to sustain the new state govern- 
ment of Louisiana * * * Xhe new government is also un- 
satisfactory that the elective franchise is not given to the col- 
ored men. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on 
the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as sol- 
diers. Still the question is: Will it be wiser to take it as it is, 
and help to improve it, or to reject and defer it?" 

"It may be my duty to make some new announcement to the 
people of the South. I am considering, and shall not fail to act 
when satisfied action is necessary." 

On the day this speech was made Chief Justice Qiase com- 
miun'cated his views on Southern reconstruction in a letter to 
president Lincoln. A'ide War of Rebellion Record, Serial No. 
47, pt. IIL page 427, from which the following is quoted: I am 
very anxious about the future, and most about the principles 
which are to govern reconstruction. . . . The easiest 
and safest way seems to me the enrollment of the loyal citizens 
without regard to complexion in the reorganization of state 
governments under constitutions securing sufTrage to all citi- 
zens. This you know has long been my opinion. It is confirmed 
by observation more and more. This way is recommended by 
its simplicity, facility, and above all justice. It will hereafter 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McKeily. 273 

be construed equally a crime and a folly if the colored loyalists 
of the rebel states are left to the control of the restored rebels, 
not likely in that case to be either wise or just until taught both 
wisdom and justice by new calamities. ... I most respect- 
fully but earnestly commend these matters to your attention." 
This letter was followed up by a longer one the next day, after 
Mr. Chase had read Mr. Lincoln's speech. Referring to his ex- 
pression of opinion w'hen a member of Mr. Lincoln's cabinet, 
and when the amnesty proclamation was under discussion the 
chief justice wrote: "It is distinct in my memory though doubt- 
less forgotten by you. It was an objection to the restrictions of 
participation in reorganization to persons having the qualifica- 
tions of voters under the laws in force just before the rebellion. 
Ever since reconstruction has been talked about it has been my 
opinion that colored loyalists ought to be allowed to participate 
in it. I did not, however, say much about the restriction. I was 
the only one who expressed a wish for its omission and did not 
desire to seem pertinacious. 

Once I should have been, if not satisfied partially, at least, 
contented with suffrage for the intelligent and for those who 
had been soldiers. Now I am convinced that universal suffrage 
is demanded by sound policy and impartial justice.'' The as- 
sassin's bullet cut off Mr. Lincoln from replying to the mon- 
strous suggestion coming from the Chief Justice, to rob the 
states of their constitutional right of fixing and controlling their 

Chief Justice Chase evidently thought that the time had come 
for him .to grasp party leadership, lay claim to the presi- 
dency, for which he had an insatiate yearning, on the plat- 
form of negro political equality in the South. The course 
he took was neither marked by sound judgment nor sense 
of judicial propriety. Before leaving for the South to preach 
the gospel of enfranchisement direct to the newly eman- 
cipated negroes, he w^rote Gen. Schofield, who was commander 
of the Department of North Carolina, a letter which is quoted 
from as of importance in connection with a history of tlie form- 
ative period of reconstruction : *'Gen. Sherman has shown me 

: h 

274 ^fississippi Historical Society. 

your telegram to him on the subject of the reorganization of 
government of North Carolina and it has occurred to me that 
you might like to know the general views of those who think as 
I do. I cannot, perhaps, put them before you with so little trou- 
ble or more distinctly than by sending yon copies of two letters 
written by me to President Lincoln just before he was so foully 
murdered. ... I have since his accession had several con- 
versations with President Johnson, and think myself authorized 
to say that he . . . thinks the reorganization should be the 
work of the people themselves acting in their original sovereign 
capacity ... by the enrollment of all the Idyal citizens pre- 
paratory to the election of delegates to a convention. In this 
enrollment he would prefer that the old constitutional rule in 
North Carolina which recognized all freeman as voters, should 
be followed, rather than the rule of the new constitution, w^hich 
excludes all freemen of color. It may be that he has already 
issued an address or proclamation stating his views. iHe was 
considering the subject when I left Washington on the 1st inst." 
This letter, dated May 7th, is in the War Record, page 427, 
Vol. 43, Part 111. It was written in Beaufort Harbor, on board 
the U. S. steamer which was bearing Judge Chase on his mission. 
The telegram from Gen. Schofield to Gen. Sherman referred to 
is quoted : ''I hope the government will make known its policy 
as to organization of state governments without delay. Affairs 
must necessarily be in a very unsettled state until that is done. 
The people are now in a mood to accept almost anything which 
promises a definite settlement. What is to be done with the 
freedmen is the question of all, and it is the all important question. 
It requires prompt and wise action to prevent the negro from 
becoming a huge elephant on our hands." Schofield's message to 
Sherman is published in the same volume, page 405. The writer 
was greatly disturbed by the Chase letter. This is shown in a 
letter to General Grant, of i!VIay 10. Schofield saw "disastrous 
results," in the Radical policy. He urged that *'the organiza- 
tion of the state governments be left to the people acting in 
their original sovereign capacity. * * * First the constitu- 
tion of the state as it existed immediately prior to the rebellion 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 275 

is still the state constitution and there is no power on earth 
but the people of the state can alter it. The operations of the 
war have freed the slaves. But the United States cannot 
make a negro or even a white man, an elector in any state. 
That is a power expressly reserved by the constitution to the 
several . states. * * * My second reason for objecting to 
the (Chase) proposition is the absolute unfitness of the ne- 
groes, as a class, for any such responsibility. They can neither 
read nor write; they have no knowledge whatever of law 
or government ; they do not even know the meaning of the 
freedom that has been given them, and are much astonished that 
it does not mean that they are to live in idleness and be fed by 
the government. * * * j have yet to see a single one of the 
many Union men of North Carolina who would willingly sub- 
mit to the immediate elevation of the negro to political equality. 
If they did not rebel againt it it would be only because rebellion 
would be hopeless." 

Gen. Schofield said in conclusion: "I am willing to discharge 
to the best of my ability, any duty which may properly devolve 
upon me. Yet if a policy so opposed to my views as that pro- 
posed by Mr. Chase is to be adopted I respectfully suggest I am 
not the proper person to carry it out." May 18th Gen. Grant 
acknowledged receipt of Gen. Schofield's letter, briefly as fol- 
lows: "Until a uniform policy is adopted for re-establishing 
civil government in the rebellious states the military authorities 
can do nothing but keep the peace. I have but just received your 
letter of the lOth, and agree with your views." 

In his letter to Gen. Schofield Chief Justice Chase stated he 
had "some fifty copies of his Lincoln letter printed for informa- 
tion of individuals — not for publication." A copy was received 
by Gen. W. T. Sherman. As ready with pen as sword, Gen. 
Sherman replied at length and with candor, to Chase's statement 
of "a way of reconstruction recommended by its simplicity, facil- 
ity and above all justice." The following is from Shennan's let- 
ter, May nth. ISfi.j: 'T say honestly that the assertion openly of 
your ideas as a fixed policy of our government, to be backed by 
physical force, will produce new war, more bloody and destructive 

276 Mississippi Historical Society. 

than the past. * * * Our own armed soldiers have preju- 
dices that, right or wronc;, should be consulted. * * * j ^^j^q 
have felt the past war as bitterly and keenly as any man, confess 
myself 'afraid' of a new war, and a new war is bound to result 
from the action you suggest, of giving to the enfranchised ne- 
groes as large a share in the most delicate task of putting the 
Southern states in practical working relations with the general 
government." Of all the men prominent in national affairs at 
the period Gen. Sherman seems to have been the most keenly 
alive to the difficulties of reconstruction. In a letter a few days 
later to Gen. O; O. Howard, just appointed head of the freed- 
man's bureau, he wrote: "I believe the negro is free constitu- 
tionally, and if the United States will simply guarantee that 
freedom, and the negro to hire his ov/n labor, the transition will 
be apparently easy. But if we attempt to force the negro on the 
South as a voter "a loyal c^'tizen,'' we begin a new revolution. 
* * * I know the people of the South better than you do. 
I believe they realize the fact that their negroes are free, and 
if allowed reasonable time, and are not harrassed by 'confisca- 
tion,' and political complication, will very soon adapt their con- 
dition and interest to their new state of facts." To Gen. Scho- 
field, who had just been appointed military governor of North 
Carolina, he v/rote May 28th from Washington, "I cannot yet 
learn that the executive has already laid down any policy, but I 
have reason to believe Mr. Johnson is not going as far as Mr. 
Chase in imposing negro suffrage on the Southern states. I 
never heard a negro ask for that, and I think it would be his 
ruin. * * * J laugh at fears of those who dread the rebels 
may regain some political power. I believe the whole idea of 
giving votes to negroes is to create just that many votes for po- 
litical uses." 

In a speech at Lexington, Kentucky, July lOth, "to the peo- 
ple among whom he was born and reared" Gen. Frank P. Blair 
gave warning of the radical intention of giving sntYrage to the 
negroes — "a movement headed by Chief Justice Qiase. He has 
stepped down from his high position on the supreme bench to 
traverse the Soutliern states in a government vessel to urge the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 277 

negroes in Vicksbiirg and elsewhere to protest against Governor 
Sharkey's appointment as governor." The Vicksbiirg Herald 
said ''there was no doubt of the truth of the charge that the 
chief justice did travel on a government boat for the benefit as 
he hoped of his pet scheme of negro suffrage, dragging the ju- 
dicial ermine in the filth of presidential scheming." 
The N. Y. World published the following criticism: 


*Tt is with pleasure w^e announce that an act of Congress re- 
quires the presence of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 
Washington on the first Monday of December, and that judicial 
duties will compel him to remain there for some months. — Since 
that high tribunal adjourned last spring the country has been con- 
stantly scandalized by the acts of the Chief Justice ''on his trav- 
els." That eminent functionary seems to have managed, with 
perfect success, to do during the summer and autumn just the 
things w^hich regard for the proprieties of his position demand 
that he should not do.- — From making speeches on the street cor- 
ners in the extreme South to squads of blacks, he has passed 
through audiences of applauding partizans, in the Southwest, 
and junketing expeditions on the Northwestern lakes, at the ex- 
pense of the Treasury Department, to club suppers and Repub- 
lican gatherings in New York city." 

In 1865 there were only two states in which negro suffrage 
prevailed, in Massachusetts and New York. And in the latter 
state, 'only negroes who owned property could vote. As there 
were only a handful of negroes in those states then, their en- 
franchisement was of no practical concern or consequence. But 
the tide of fanaticism and sectional hate which was so soon des- 
tined to overwhelm the South with the polluted flood of negro 
political equality was fast rising. While there were leaders of 
political thought in the Northern states who held out against the 
fatuity and the brutality of forcing such a bitter cup of shame 
and ruin on the Southern whites, their protests were being 
drowned by the cry of vae victis. Replying to what he called 


'?.7S Mississippi Historical Society. 

H"is ^'Oberlin inquisitors," Gen. Cox, a veteran of distinction and 
a candidate on the Republican ticket for Governor of Ohio, said 
of the demand for imposing negro suffrage upon the Southern 
states: "You answer that the extension of the right of suffrage 
to the blacks, leaving them intermixed with the whites, will 
cause all the trouble. I believe it would be rather like the dim- 
ness in that outer darkness of which Milton speaks, when — 

"Chaos umpires its, 
And by decision more embroils the fray." 

Being called on for "a solution of the problem," Gen. Cox 
replied in words of wisdom that time has full^- and sadly verified 
that the only real solution was deportation of the negroes. But 
that as this was impracticable "the solution was narrowed down 
to one of peaceable separ-ation of the races on the soil where 
they now are," As there could be no amalgamation, it could be 
decided that the salvation or destruction of the negro race will 
surely be worked out in its family isolation." 

Qosing his letter, which was published in the Vicksburg iHer- 
ald of August 11th, 18G5, Gen, Cox, who afterwards served in 
Grant's cabinet, thus gave his reasons for opposing negro suf- 
frage in the South. 

First, because there could be no real unity of people between 
the Southern whites and Southern blacks, it seems manifest that 
there could be no political unity but rather strife for the mas- 
tery in which one or the other would go to the wall. 

Second. The struggle for the supremacy would be so direct 
and immediate that the weaker race would be reduced to hope- 
less subjection or utterly destroyed. 

As early as iMay Sth, Lewis D. Campbell, a prominent and in- 
fluential Ohio Republican, wrote President Johnson, who soon 
after made him minister to Mexico: "Among other questions 
this is one which is beginning to assume much significance — ne- 
gro suffrage. This is being pressed everywhere by those who 
style themselves radicals. Of course you will be called on to 
take sides. 1 regard that question as one belonging exclusively 
to the state and not to the Federal government." 

''S » i« 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 279 

The evil genius of the country and President was Secretary 
Stanton. While so comporting himself as to give no cause for 
his dismissal from the cabinet, he was in the close confidence of 
the enemies of his chief, "We were all imposed upon," reads 
the Welles diary of ^lay 20, ''by Stanton, who had a pur- 
pose. He and the radicals were opposed to the mild policy of 
Lincoln.'* Stanton's "purpose" was to crush the South. How 
he was swayed by hate is recorded in his correspondence con- 
cerning the case of Gov. Brown, of Georgia. Destitution in the 
counties of that state devastated by Sherman the year before ap- 
proached the famine point, and called for immediate relief. 
Many thousands were on the verge of perishing. In a tabulated 
report by counties Gen. Wilson stated that there were 60,000 
people totally without suppHes, or with only enough for ten days. 
As many more were in a precarious condition. May Gth, Gov. 
Brown wrote President Johnson: "The complete collapse of the 
currency and the great destitution of provisions arnong the poor 
makes it absolutely necessary that the legislature meet to supply 
this deficiency and with a view to the restoration of peace and 
order by accepting the price which the fortunes of war have 
imposed on us, I have called the legislature to meet the 22d inst. 
Gen. Wilson informs me that he cannot permit the assemblage 
without instructions from the government at W^ashington. Does 
the government at Washington, or will you order that no force 
be used to prevent the meeting of the legislature"? 

To this communication Secretary Stanton replied "by direction 
of the President," and through Gen. J. H. Wilson, who com- 
manded the department of Georgia. He was instructed to in- 
form "Mr. Brown" that "the great destitution of provisions 
among- the poor of the state of Georgia have been caused by the 
treason, insurrection and rebellion incited and carried on by Mr. 
Brown and his confederate rebels and traitors. What Mr. Brown 
calls the result which the fortunes of war have imposed on the 
people of Georgia, and all the misery, loss and woe they have 
suffered are chargeable upon Mr. Brown and his confederate 
rebels as the just penalty of the crimes of treason and rebellion. 
* * * Men whose crimes have spilled so much blood of their 

280 Mississippi Historical Society. 

fellow citizens will not be allowed to usurp legislative powers 
taht might be employed to set on foot fresh acts of treason and 
rebellion. In calling them together Mr. Brown perpetrated a 
fresh crime that will be dealt with accordingly.'' 

On the same day, May ?th, Gen. Wilson was instructed to 
''immediately arrest Joseph E. Brown, who pretends to act as 
Governor of Georgia, and send him in close custody under suf- 
ficient guard to Major General Augur at Washington and allow 
him to hold no communication, verbal or written, with any per- 
son but the officer having him in charge." But Gov. Brown was 
not held. He had been shrewd or lucky enough to surrender as 
commander of the state troops, and obtain a parole. Gen. Grant 
cited the Secretary of War to this circumstance, and while other 
Governors went to prison, Governor Brown was soon on his way 
home from W^ashington. Others who plead their paroles were 
not so fortunate. It was published in the press dispatches that 
Gov. Browm was released to appear as a witness against Presi- 
dent Davis, with whom he was at bitter feud. 

May 29th President Johnson issued his ''amnesty" proclama- 
tion. After declaring the grant of amnesty and pardon, and 
prescribing the oath of allegiance, the following exceptions were 
specified : 

1. All who are or shall have been pretended civil or diplo- 
matic officers, or otherwise domestic or foreign agents of the } 
pretended Confederate government. 

2. All who left judicial stations under the United States to 
aid the rebellion. 

3. All who shall have been military or naval officers of said 
pretended Confederate government, above the grade of colonel 
in the army and lieutenant in the navy. 

4. All who left seats in the congress of the United States 
to aid the rebellion. 

5. All who resigned or tendered the resignation of their 
commissions in the army and navy of the United States to evade 
their duty in resisting the rebellion. 

6. All who have engaged in any w'ay in treating otherwise 
than lawfully as prisoners of war, persons forced into the United 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 281 

States service, as officers, soldiers, seamen, or in other capacities. 

7. All persons who have been or are absentees from the 
United States for the purpose of aiding the rebellion. 

8. All military and naval officers in the rebel service, who 
were educated by the government in the military academy at 
West Point and at the United States naval academy. 

9. All persons who held the pretended office of governor of 
states in insurrection against the United States. 

10. All persons who left their homes within the jurisdiction 
and protection of the United States and passed beyond the fed- 
eral military lines into the so-called Confederate States for the 
purpose of aiding the rebellion. 

11. All persons who have engaged in the destruction of the 
commerce of the United States upon the high seas, and all per- 
sons who have made raids into the United States from Canada 
or been engaged in destroying the commerce of the United States 
upon the lakes and rivers that separate the British provinces 
from the United States. 

12. All persons who, at the time when they seek to obtain 
the benefits hereof by taking the oath herein prescribed, are in 
military, naval or civil confinement or custody, or under bond 
of military, naval or civil authorities or agents of the United 
States, as prisoners of war or persons detained for oftenses of 
any kind, either before or after conriction. 

13. All persons who have voluntarily participated in said 
rebellion and the estimated value of whose property is over 

14. , All persons who have taken the oath of amnesty pre- 
scribed in the President's proclamation of December Sth, 18G3. 
or oath of allegiance to the United States since the date of said 
proclamation, and who have not thenceforward kept and main- 
tained the same inviolate. 

Provided, that special application may be made to the President 
for favor by any person belonging to the excepted classes, and 
such clemency will be liberally extended as may be consistent 
with the facts of the case and the peace of the dignity of the 
United States. 

282 Mississippi Historical Society. 

It will never be claimed that this was a dispensation of "the 
quality of mercy" not strained — which "droppeth as the gentle 
rain from heaven — blessing him that gives and him that takes." 
It largely increased the class of exempts as specified in Mr. Lin- 
coln's amnesty proclamation of December, 18G3. As the war 
was all over, the rebellion crushed and the rebels supplicant, a 
patriotic, and a wise policy would have reduced the amnesty ex- 
ceptions instead of enlarging them. Though the whole amnesty 
doctrine was misconceived and irrational, "treason," and "re- 
bellion" applied to Southern leaders was mere epithet. It was 
in conflict with the belligerent rights accorded the government 
and armies of the Confederate states throughout the war. From 
the foundation of the Union, secession had been recognized as a 
constitutional right by many of the most eminent statesmen of 
both sections. At this time, with the passing of the passions of 
war and in the sober light of reason, none dispute that it was at 
least a valid, or a permissible claim of the meaning of the Union 
of states. Singling out the leaders for amnesty exceptions was 
in the face of the notorious fact that secession was a popular 
upheaval — the masses precipitating the leaders into the gulf. No 
one knew of these contradictions to the premises of his amnesty 
proclamation better than President Johnson. He was, however, 
embarrassed by his violent and maledictory mouthings when first 
invested with the presidency, when he was hailed by the radicals 
as one of themselves. He was on record with the declaration that 
"the American people must be made to understand the nature of 
the crime, the length, the breadth, the depth of treason. For the 
thousands who were drawn into the infernal rebellion there should 
be amnesty, conciliation, clemency and mercy. For the leaders 
justice — the penalty and the forfeit should be paid. The people 
must understand that treason i^ the blackest of crime and should 
be punished." In his ensuing brave and patriotic struggle with 
radicalism these words handicapped and mocked him. 

Exemptions under section 13, placing men of property under 
the ban was doubly perverted. It probably owed existence to 
the common, though utterly mistaken. Northern opinion that 
the rich brought on the war and should be made to suffer by it. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 283 

In Mississippi at least this was the reverse of the fact. Seces- 
sion majorities had been rolled up in the white and poorer coun- 
ties — the large slave owning constituencies voted against seces- 
sion. Both self-interest and wider knowledge led to their rejection 
of the election of a Republican president, with majorities in both 
houses opposed to the slavery policies of that party, as a justifica- 
tion or a cause of disunion. But the $20,000 limit possessed its own 
antidote ; deducting values of slaves lost and debts remaining, in- 
solvency w^as the rule with the wealthy of the old regime. The 
whole fulmination of amnesty exceptions, was, however, looked 
on as stage thunder. It was marveled at by James G. Blaine, in 
his "Twenty Years in Congress," that the persons excepted un- 
der the President's amnesty did not approach the mercy seat in 
an humble and a contrite spirit. ''Many," he declared, "as it 
must be regretfully but truthfully recorded, appeared to have 
no proper appreciation of the leniency extended to them. They 
accepted every favor with an ill grace, and showed rancorous 
hatred to the national government even when they knew it only 
as a benefactor." The reverse of this is true. For acts of leni- 
ency and kindliness by the Union authorities with whom they 
came in contact, and who held authority in their states, there 
w^as the fullest appreciation by all classes of Southern people. 
But as defeat had not changed the fixed and fundamental belief 
in the constitutional right of the South in seceding, and that the 
war waged upon her therefor was wicked and tyrannical, re- 
quirement of pardon for things that were not crimes was re- 
garded as an added wrong. P^ardons were only applied for as 
conveniences and were granted in the same spirit. The pre- 
scribed oath was administered and taken without solemnity, as a 
perfunctory act, a mere mechanical restoration to citizenship 
withheld in malice. ^^len of mark and influence conformed to the 
odious requirement in a spirit of self-sacrifice to duty; as an ex- 
ample of submission to the government. The case of Gen. Lee is 
cited. His application, dated June 13th, 1865, addressed to 
President Johnson, read as follows: "Sir, Being excluded from 
the provisions of amnesty and pardon contained in the procla- 
mation of the Sf'th ult., I hereby apply lor the benefits of the full 

284 Mississippi Historical Society. 

restoration of all rights and privileges extended to those in- 
cluded in its temis." In a letter his son, Gen. Custis Lee, sub- 
sequently wrote : *'When Gen. Lee requested me to make a copy 
of this letter he remarked it was but right for him to set an ex- 
ample of making formal submission to the civil authorities, and 
that he thought by so doing he might possibly be in a better po- 
sition to be of use to the Confederates who were not protected 
by military pardon, especially Mr. Davis." Only a few days 
later Gen. Lee realized that neither influence or his pre-eminent 
character nor his "military pardon," nor Gen. Grant's protest 
could protect him from an indictment dictated by radical mal- 
evolents. No more could the amnesty, which Mr. Blaine charges 
was shown *'no proper appreciation" relieve the people from^ out- 
rage and extortion. Enveloped as the state was in an atmos- 
phere of doubt and distrust of the future policy of the govern- 
ment, harassed by compulsory exactions and restrictions on trade 
and planting, plagued by the humiliation and the menace of the 
negro garrisons, is it to be wondered that the amnesty proclama- 
tion caused mighty little comfort and touched no spring of grati- 
tude? Non molestation in their daily bread winning pursuits 
v/as the burthen of the people's desire. 

A fly was dropped in the amnesty ointment, by Secretary of 
War Stanton, who ordered the arrest of the Governor of the 
state, Gen. Chas. Clark, who had been paroled to remain at Ma- 
con to answer any charges that might be made against h'm. By 
order of Secretary of War Stanton, he was taken in custody June 
3d, and sent to Fort Pulaski without charges. His offense was 
presumed to be that of attempting to exercise the functions of 
his ofiice by calling the legislature in session. In submitting to 
arrest the Governor exclaimed bitterly against the outrage to 
which he only yielded because the power of resistance was lack- 
ing. As related by Gen. Richard Taylor, in "Destruction and 
Reconstruction," the course pursued toward Governor Clark was 
a brutal tyranny. "He was imprisoned," the book referred to 
reads, "for acting on my advice submitted to and approved by 
Gen. Canby." Other Southern Governors, Confederate cabi- 
net members, and other persons of prominence, were taken into 

,d ^ 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 285 

custody and sent to various military prisons. No other motive 
for their arrest is to be inferred than that of bringing a certain 
number of the more distinguished ''traitors'' to trial. General 
Taylor was Confederate commander of the Departments of Mis- 
sissippi, Alabama and Louisiana, 

Though a Southern man and an ante-bellum Democrat, ex- 
treme vindictiveness toward the secession leaders had won for 
President Johnson the welcome of the radicals upon his acces- 
sion to the Presidency. They were confident that he would 
prove the chief executive after their own heart that Lincoln was 
not. It was with bitter disappointment and resentment that they 
contemplated his departure from the policy, in the provisional 
government proclamation of making treason odious. Subse- 
quently there has been no Httle speculation upon the cause, or 
causes, of the President's changed views of reconstruction. 
James G. Blaine, in "Twenty Years in Congress," in discussing 
the question, attributes the change to the influence of Secretary 
of State Seward, He says, page 62 : "Mr. Seward believed that 
the legislation which should affect the South, now that peace had 
returned, should be shared by representatives of that section and 
that as such participation must at last come if we v^ere to have a 
restored republic, the wisest policy was to concede it at once and 
not venture by delay a new^ form of discontent." * * * He 
had undoubtedly a hard task with the President. * * * He 
set before him the glory of an administration which should com- 
pletely re-establish the Union of the states and reunite the hearts 
of the people. * * * By his arguments and by eloquence 
Mr. Seward completely captivated the President. iHe effectu- 
ally persuaded him that a policy of anger and hate and vengeance 
would lead only to evil results. * * * Xhe man who had in 
April arrayed himself in favor of the halter for intelligent, in- 
fluential traitors * * * -vvas now about to proclaim a policy 
of reconstruction without attempting the indictment of even one 
traitor, or issuing the warrant for the arrest of a single partici- 
pant in the rebellion aside from those suspected of personal crime 
in connection with the noted conspiracy of assassination." 

While Mr. Blaine's book possesses decided literary merit, the 

286 Mississippi Historical Society. 

passage quoted is only one of many proofs of its unreliability as 
history. When the President formed and declared his policy of 
reconstruction, Mr. Seward was incapacitated by his wounds 
from attending his cabinet meetings, or advising with him. 
What is more convincing, Mr. Johnson's whole life record con- 
tradicts any story of his dependence upon any one, however cap- 
tivating his "eloquence and arguments," in forming his convic- 
tions. Nor is the Blaine explanation sustained by the Welles 
diary, or any other contemporary evidence. Mr. Welles, who 
was the President's devoted supporter, represents Secretary Sew- 
ard as occupying an ambiguous position toward the administra- 
tion. In his diary of October 21st, he writes : "Secretary Seward 
has been holding forth at Auburn in a studied and comprehen- 
sive speech, intended for the special laudation and glory of him- 
self and Stanton." December 6th the diary reads : "Seward ap- 
prehending a storm, wants a steamer to take him to Cuba. 
Wishes to be absent a fortnight or three weeks. Thinks he had 
better be away." 

There is no inherent improbability in claiming honesty in the 
President's shift from ultra radicalism to extreme conservatism. 
He was a man of probity, who did not fail in comprehension of 
the weight of responsibilities of his high station. At the same time 
he labored under grave temperamental infirmities, which not un- 
naturally betrayed him into a false attitude in a time of utmost 
popular excitement and passion. The brutal tyranny of the rad- 
icals doubtless revolted President Johnson, and brought him 
more easily under reactionary influence. 

As Lincoln is a name to conjure with, it is noted that after all 
the carping of the radicals against Johnson's plan of reconstruc- 
tion, it was nearer to their idea and was more arbitrary than that 
of his predecessor. 

May 29th, President Johnson took the first step for the restora- 
tion of civil authority in the South, in a proclamation appointing 
W. W. Holden provisional Governor of North Carolina. June 
13th a similar proclamation was issued in which Wm. L. Sharkey 
was named as provisional Governor of Mississippi. It was de- 
clared to be his duty to convene a convention, to be "composed 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily. 287 

of delegates, chosen by that portion of the people of the state loy- 
al to the United States." Said convention was to alter or amend 
the constitution, and take steps to enable said "loyal people" to 
return Mississippi to its constitutional relations to the Federal 
government. It was provided that in any election hereafter held 
for choosing delegates to any state convention as aforesaid, "no 
person shall be qualified as an elector or shall be eligible as a 
member of said convention unless he shall have previously taken 
the oath of amnesty, and is a qualified voter as prescribed by the 
constitution and laws of the state of Mississippi in force imme- 
diately before the. 9th day of January, 1861, the date of the so- 
called ordinance of secession; and the said convention, when 
convened, or the legislature that may be thereafter assembled will 
prescribe the qualifications of electors and the eligibility of per- 
sons to hold office under the constitution and laws of the — a pow- 
er the people of the several states composing the Federal Union 
have rightfully exercised from the origin of the government to the 
present time." In these last lines the administration's theory as to 
the electorate was declared. The military commander of the de^ 
partment and persons in the military and naval service were di- 
rected to aid and assist the provisional Governor in carrying this 
proclamation into efifect. The respective cabinet heads of de- 
partments were called on to appoint officials as provided for ex- 
ecuting the I'ederal laws ; such as postmasters and mail carriers, 
assessors and collectors of customs taxes. Federal courts were to 
be resumed and lastly: 'The Attorney General will instruct the 
proper officers to libel and bring to judgment confiscation and 
sale, property subject to confiscation." 

Without specific precedent or authority for his provisional gov- 
ernment creations, the President claimed the warrant for his ac- 
tion in the fourth article of the constitution ; which was thus in- 
corporated in the proclamation: 

"The fourth section of the fourth article of the constitution of 
the United States declares that the United States shall guarantee 
to every state in the Union a republican form of government, and 
shall protect each of them against invasion and domestic violence; 
and whereas, the President of the United States is by the constitu- 

288 Mississippi Historical Society. 

tion made commander in chief of the army and navy, as well as 
chief civil executive officer of the United States, and is bound by 
solemn oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the 
United States and to take care that the laws be faithfully exe- 
cuted; and whereas, the rebellion, which has been waged by a 
portion of the people of the United States against the properly 
constituted authorities of the government thereof in the most 
violent and revolting form, but whose organized and armed forces 
have now been almost entirely overcome, has in its revolutionary 
progress deprived the people of North Carolina of civil govern- 
ment ; and whereas, it becomes necessary and proper to carry out 
and enforce the obligations of the United States to the people of 
North Carolina, m securing them in the enjoyment of a republican 
form of government; Now therefore * * * i^ Andrew- 
Johnson," etc. 

The time of appointment of the provisional governors and their 
election and convention proclamations were as follows : 

North Carolina— W. W. Holden, May 29th, 1865. 

Mississippi — Wm. L. Sharkey, June loth, 1865. Election of 
delegates Aug. 7th, convention to meet Aug. 14th. 

Georgia — James Johnson, June 17th, 1865. Election of dele- 
gates October 4th, convention to meet Oct. 25th. 

Texas— A. J. Hamilton, June 17th, 1865. 

Alabama — L. E. Parsons, June 21st, 1865. Election of dele- 
gates August 31st, convention to meet Sept. 10th. 

South Carolina — B. F. Perry, June 30th, 1865. Election of del- 
egates October 4th. convention to meet Nov. 20th. 

Florida — Wm. Marvin, July 18th, 1865. 

The President's appointee, Judge Sharkey, was more than ac- 
ceptable to the people among whom he had risen to eminence, and 
in whose confidence and esteem he held exalted place. A native 
of East Tennessee, he had come to the state, in Warren county, 
when a child. A boy of 15, he enlisted in Jackson's army and 
was a participant in the battle of New Orleans. While promi- 
nent in the counsels of the Whig party, as an opponent of seces- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 289 

sion, he had won his distinction on the bench. His fame is thus 
sounded in "Thirty Years in Congress" by S. S. Cox: 

"Judge Sharkey was a lawyer who had -a thoroughly profes- 
sional mind. He could drive a legal proposition through every 
impediment. It may not do to liken him to Qiief Justice Mar- 
shall, who gave such logical decisions that they required no pre- 
cedent to support them. For eighteen years he presided as chief 
justice of the high court of errors and appeals in Mississippi. In 
that domain he had no peer in his state. He read law with Dr. 
Hill, of Lebanon, Tenn. His genius for the law gave him a 
large practice. He was an eminent judge as early as 1832. No 
man who ever sat upon the bench in Mississippi ever settled 
more questions or made more authoritative decisions. He never 
failed on a legal principle. He never failed in minute detail. 
When he left the bench in 1S50 it was to rescue his little fortune. 
President Fillmore tendered him the position of secretary of w^ar, 
which he declined. Years after, when the dire work of civil war 
had ended, he became one of the heroes of reconstruction. Pres- 
ident Johnson made him provisional governor of Mississippi. It 
was a difficult, delicate and most ungrateful office ; yet all parties 
were satisfied with his administration. The writer remembers him 
well as a man of kind, polished manner, with a rare fund of con- 
versation. His fame is written all over, and all through and all 
under the jurisprudence of his state." The appointment of such 
a man might reasonably have been supposed im.mune to attack- 
But the factional line had been drawn, and anything linked with 
the President's reconstruction work, everything pertaining to his 
provisional governments, was an offense with the radicals. As 
Governor Sharkey's pa-t political record could not be assailed 
from the standpoint of Unionism, savage attacks that did not 
stop short of falsification, was directed at his judicial record. 

In the Vicksburg Herald of June 2Tth the arrival of tlie state's 
commissioners. Judges W. L. Sharkey and Wm. Yerger, from 
Washington, was announced. With them was their secretary, 
Col. Jones S. Hamilton, whom the governor appointed his pri- 
vate secretary. "A salute," the paper stated, *Svas fired from 
Battery Grant in honor of the arrival of Hon. W. L. Sharkey, 


290 Mississippi Historical Society. 

provisional governor of Mississippi." The same paper published 
the appointment by the governor of Marmaduke Shannon sheriff 
of Warren county, and of Ira Batterton, the proprietor of The 
Herald and a Union officer, as state printer. Publication was 
made of the governor's direction to the sheriff to hold an election 
for a mayor and city council of Vicksburg, and the consequent 
notice of the election by Mr. Shannon. This was the first official 
action by the governor. Of the city election, the first held in the 
state, the Herald said: *'The election for municipal officers took 
place in the city yesterday, according to the order of Gov. Shar- 
key. It passed off without a single incident to mar the occasion 
of a free people once more assembling under the protection of 
the glorious union, to exercise the elective franchise. All the can- 
didates were among our oldest and most worthy citizens. Pro- 
Bate court opened a term and transacted business on Monday, 
July 3rd. On reaching Jackson certain other appointments were 
made, including James R. Yerger, secretary of state. 

July 1st, 1865, Provisional Governor Sharkey issued his proc- 
lamation to the citizens of Mississippi from which the following 
is quoted: 

"Fellow Citizens of Mississippi : The president of the United 
States, by virtue of the power vested in him has been pleased 
to appoint the undersigned provisional governor of the state of 
Mississippi "for the purpose of enabling the loyal people of the 
state to organize a state government, whereby justice may be es- 
tablished, domestic tranquility insured, and loyal citizens pro- 
tected in all their rights of life, liberty and property." And to ac- 
complish that purpose has directed me *'at the earliest- practicable 
moment to prescribe such rules and regulations as may be neces- 
sary and proper for convening a convention of delegates, to be 
chosen by that portion of the people of said state who are loyal 
to the United States, and no others, for the purpose of altering 
or amending the constitution thereof" so that the state may re- 
sume its place in the Union. And being anxious to carry out the 
wishes of the president and restore the dominion of civil govern- 
ment, as speedily as possible, I do hereby ordain and declare as 
follows : 

' War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 291 

To avoid the delay which would necessarily occur from the 
separate organization of each county by special appointments of 
the several county officers, the county officials incumbent on May 
22nd, 1865, and those of municipalities regularly kept up, were 
appointed to fill the offices respectively they then held. Special 
appointments already made were excepted. All of such appointees 
were required to subscribe to the amnesty oath prescribed in the 
president's proclamation of amnesty. Nor could any one hold any 
of the offices in question who came under any of the clauses from 
which the benefits of the proclamation was withheld. Special 
appointments to be immediately made upon showing of the ne- 
cessity, were assured to counties which had been disorganized, or 
where there were no persons available. The sheriffs were com- 
manded in their counties respectively, to "hold an election Au- 
gust 7th, 1865, for delegates to the convention for the purposes 
mentioned in the president's proclamation." Voters were re- 
quired to possess the qualifications prescribed by the constitution 
and the by laws as they existed prior to the 9th day of January, 
1861, and must also produce a certificate of having taken the 
amnesty oath, and no one was eligible as a member of the conven- 
tion unless he had taken it. Counties and towns were entitled to 
such representation, numerically, in the convention as they pos- 
sessed in the lower legislative branch prior to secession. The 
delegates elected were to assemble in Jackson August 14th and 
organize the convention. The trustees of the State University 
were also enjoined to meet at Oxford July 31st and put that in- 
stitution in operation. 

In his proclamation Gov. Sharkey discussed the validity of the 
emancipation proclamation which there seemed to be some who 
looked on as unconstitutional. He announced that "it must," ac- 
cording to rule of law, **be regarded as valid until the suprem.e 
court shall decide otherwise." * * * xhe people of the 
Southern states were in rebellion; the President had a right to 
prescribe terms of amnesty; he has done so and it is hoped the 
people will take his oath with the fixed purpose to observe it in 
good faith." * * * The negroes are free — free by the proc- 
lamation — free by common consent, free practically as well as 

292 Mississippi Historical Society. 

theoretically. And it is too late to raise technical questions as 
to the means by which they became so. Besides it would be bad 
policy now to undertake to change their conditions if we could do 
so. It would be nothing less than an effort to establish slavery 
where it does not exist. Therefore let us cordially unite in our 
efforts to organize our state government, so that we may by wise 
legislation, prepare ourselves to live in prosperity and happiness 
in the changed condition of our domestic relations. Fellow-citi- 
zens, I accept the office of provisional governor in full view of 
the troubles and responsibilities incident to it. I was actuated 
by no other motive than a desire to aid the people in organizing 
a civil government preparatory to the restoration of the harmon- 
ious relations with the government of the United States. That I 
shall commit errors I know full well, but I know also that I shall 
very soon leave the office, and that I shall carry with m.c the con- 
soling reflection that I endeavored to subserve the best interests 
of the people in this critical and trying conjunction of public af- 

The practical freedom of the negro was so manifest that dis- 
cussion of the question was viewed by the public as vain and idle. 
Only dreamers and Bourbons held otherwise. The conclusion of 
the message which is quoted, is to be read with the reminder 
that Gov. Sharkey had been an extreme Union man, and without 
sympathy in the war to establish disunion, further than that of 
loyalty to his state and fellowship with his fellow citizens : 

"The people of the South have just passed through a most ter- 
rible and disastrous revolution, in which they have signally failed 
to accomplish their purpose. Perhaps their success would have 
proved to be the greatest calamity that could have befallen the 
country, and the greatest calamity to the cause of civil liberty 
throughout the world. * * * The business of improving our 
government if it should be found to need it, and of promoting 
reconciliation between Northern and Southern people, are now 
prominent duties before us, so that we may hereafter live In the 
more secure and perfect enjoyment of the great patrimony left us 
by our fathers, and so that those who are to come after us m.ay 
long enjoy in their fullest functions the inestimable blessings of 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 293 

civil liberty, the best birthright and noblest inheritance of man- 

Gov. Sharkey thus wrote without foreseeing that the clouds 
were already gathering to overwhelm civil liberty in the South. 
No dream or foresight of its overthrow by military force dark- 
ened his vision, no nightmare of reconstruction built up on negro 
political equality, which in his state meant negro dominion. 
When the blow fell he bared his breast to the fury of the storm, 
and led in resisting it. It is to be doubted if he then remained 
steadfast in the view, that Southern success would have been 
"the greatest calamity that could have befallen the country/' 

Gov. Sharkey did not include the higher judiciary in his gen- 
eral scheme of rehabilitation of civil government, of restoring of- 
ficials who had been displaced by military order. Above probate 
judges he relegated court incumbents to the convention. He, 
however, gave recognition to the pressing needs of litigation in 
a proclamation, July 12, appointing "a special judge," with equity 
jurisdiction in all contracts for cotton or other personal property 
in the state, with power to proceed in a summary way on petition 
to enforce specific contracts on notice to parties, to issue sum- 
mons, to punish for contempt, to appoint a clerk. Sheriffs of the 
counties were required to execute processes, to bring parties into 
court and enforce decrees. The appointment of other ecjuity 
judges followed. Though the legality of these courts was ques- 
tioned, they served the good end of relieving the military author- 
ities of duties that were inconsistent and obnoxious. The validity 
of their authority was subsequently tested in the courts, whicli 
affirmed the creation of such tribunals as a legitimate exercise of 
the power conferred on the provisional governor by the Presi- 
dent as commander in chief of the army. 

July 17th Governor Sharkey issued a proclamation to raise rev- 
enues to defray the expenses of the provisional government. 
Taxes were levied on a number of privileges, and on cotton a 
dollar a bale. On all profits made during the war by buying and 
selling cotton, tobacco, salt, sugar, molasses and other articles 
of trade and products, 5 per cent tax was imposed. . Tlie same 
amount was levied on all property purchased durinc: the war. 

294 Mississippi Historical Society. 

The authority for the exercise of power was thus stated: 
**Whereas it becomes necessary to raise revenue for the support of 
the provisional g-overnment of the state of Mississippi, and to 
meet the expenditures incident to the assembling of the conven- 
tion which has been called in obedience to the proclamation of 
the President of the United States, which can only be done by 
taxation; and whereas there is no legislative body in existence 
which can impose taxes and consequently the execution of the 
power necessarily falls on the provisional governor. Therefore," 
etc. The county assessors w^ere instructed to assess and the sher- 
iff to collect the taxes imposed ; the latter being instructed to 
make returns of all m.oneys collected on or before the meeting of 
the convention. "As cases of hardship may arise in the assess- 
ment and collection of the taxes hereby directed, I assume the 
power to give relief to parties on proper showing." Governor 
Sharkey, it will be seen, spared him.self no labor in the discharge 
of the arduous and difficult duties of his station. As he ap- 
pointed no state revenue officials, he acted as treasurer and audi- 
tor in receiving and disbursing the receipts of tax funds. 

Discussing the suppression of crime and the punishment of 
the guilty, Governor Sharkey's proclamation read; ''The com- 
manding general at the post has kindly offered to me the force at 
his command for the protection of tlie people and for the appre- 
hension of offenders against the law. * * * j would advise 
the people wliere it may become necessary in consecjuence of their 
remoteness from a military post, to organize themselves into a 
county patrol for the apprehension of offenders." 

Governor Sharkey was criticised for the installation of civil 
government prior to the state convention, and part'.cularly for his 
re-appointment of the war-time county officials. The Governors 
of some Southern states, Georgia at least, went no further than 
to order the election for delegates to the convention — proclaiming 
that said election should be held by ((ualificd voters to be desig- 
nated by their fellow voters. But Governor S'/uirkey took his 
commission with all its implied investiture of executive dignity 
and powers, and problems of administration of questionable au- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 295 

thority confronted him on every side. With these he c^rappled 
vigorously, construing his jurisdiction liberally and practically. 

Not only was the establishment of provisional government in 
Mississippi criticised by the radicals as premature and mistaken, 
criticism was sharpened by the uses made of the record of the 
President's appointee in decisions he rendered as judge, upon 
the institution of slavery. The Vicksburg Herald, edited and con- 
trojled by a Union soldier, sought to break the force of such 
censure in the issue of June 20th "Nearly every paper," it said, 
"which has reached us from the North, has an article on the re- 
cent proclamation of the President, appointing Judge Sharkey 
provisional governor of Mississippi. Some refer to his decisions 
while on the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and severely 
criticise his views on the subject of slavery. The injustice of 
such reflections are made apparent when it is remembered that 
Sharkey was a judge and not a lawmaker; that he had nothing tp 
do with the laws except to expound them as a sworn officer of 
the highest judicial tribunal of the state, and it is not at all im- 
probable that he believed slavery to be no curse and freedom no 
great blessing to the slaves, under the peculiar formation of our 
society at that time. But, however that may be, he was stern, de- 
voted, unflinching, unwavering, proud of the union of the states, 
which we suppose constituted his chief merit at Washington." 
The New York Tribune compliments the sterling worth of Judge 
Sharkey but could not refrain from the following censorious 
criticism : 

"Truth compels us to add that some of his pro-slavery deci- 
sions have seemed to us little better than infernal. Here is a sam- 
ple of them: 'A ^Mississippi planter who had lived with one of h's 
female slaves and had several children by her, died, leaving a will 
whereby he gave this woman and her children freedom, with a 
considerable slice of his property. His wdaite relatives contested 
the will and the case went up to Sharkey for adjudication. He 
annulled the will and yent the testators, mother and children, to 
Ihe auction block, alleging that relations which lead to such dis- 
position of the estate was an immoral one and emancipation was 
contrary to the policy of Mississippi.' Replying that the Tribune 

296 Mississippi Historical Society. 

did not fairly state the case. The Herald said : 'These neg-roes 
had been emancipated in violation of the laws of Mississippi and 
Ohio. Then the case was decided according: to law and it matters 
little what are the views of the judge, legal points arc dccidcfl ac- 
cording to law." 

Quoting a comment upon the same decision from the Cincinnati 
Times, the Herald pronounced it ''even more unfair and unscru- 
pulous toward the Governor than the Tribune." Of course there 
was neither logic nor justice in raising his ante-bellum decisions 
construing state law and policy on the slavery issue, against 
Judge Sharkey; none at least that would not have condemned 
the whole body of the people as equally beyond the pale of trust 
and consideration. These criticisms are quoted as an illustration 
of the President's difficulties in carrying into effect his Southern 
policy — of its vulnerability to sectional and envenomed attacks. 

Reflecting the views of the most rabid South haters the Chi- 
cago Republican, edited by C. A. Dana, Secretary of War Stan- 
ton's understudy and mouthpiece, claiming the necessity of con- 
tinued rule of the South by military law, said: "We doubt very 
much if the conventions to be elected in the rebel states will do 
much that will be satisfactory in the way of organizing slate gov- 
ernments. The consequence will be that those states will continue 
to be governed by military power." This display of the mailed 
hand was thus thereby shaded by the veil of hypocrisy : Much as 
the heart of every lover of h's country will mourn over such a re- 
sult, there seems to be no escape from jt. * * * So long as 
Gen. Lee remains in this country, and is allowed to be about 
without punishment, but to proclaim disloyal and obnoxious opin- 
ions such as he fought for against the United States, there will be 
a feeling of dissatisfaction among loyal citizens. There is some- 
thing infinitely galling in the fact that the articles of convention 
between him and Grant were so loosely drawn as to afford a loop- 
hole of escape of such a traitor from the clutches of the law." A 
comment on this virulent article in the Cincinnati Commercial 
alludes to it as "a war office point of view." 

The New York Times, a supporter of the Johnson policy of 
rehabilitation, said of the provisional governors, August 16th: 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 297 

"Their action in the first step has in every case, been discreet, 
temperate and conservative. They have adopted the same policy 
of interfering as little as possible with those things which enter 
into the character, history and institutions of each state, which 
were established in other times and are adapted to existing con- 
ditions. In one direction they must build anew, and radically, 
but in others they find much valuable work w'hich only requires 
to-be let alone. While unequivocally loyal, they do not unneces- 
sarily stir up popular prejudices. They all proclaim that slavery 
is abolished, totally and forever, and aid energetically in the re- 
construction of the new^ social state upon the basis of universal 
freedom." The plan of the Tribune, Greeley's paper, and the 
most influential of all at this period, was thus briefly announced: 
''Universal amnesty and universal suffrage.'' 

Though looked upon at the time as of no significance, the subse- 
quent course of events gives historic moment to the following, 
the first echo of negro political aspiration in the state : 


A mass meeting of the loyal disfranchised citizens of Vicks- 
burg, Miss., was held June 19th. Jacob Richardson of the 49th 
U. S. C. I., presided. M. H. Mason was appointed secretary. 


Whereas, the President of the L"^nited States has by proclama- 
tion, dated Washington, June 13th, 1865, appointed a provisional 
governor for the state of Missi«^sippi, Hon. W. L. Sharkey, and 
directs that a convention be cabled and an election held, allowing 
such only to vote under the constitution and laws of the state of 
Mississippi, as administered b^'fore the passage of the so-called 
Ordinance of Secession of January 9th, ISGl, excluded the loyal 
colored citizens : therefore, resolved : 

First. That we regard such a policy unjust to the colored cit- 
izens, paralyzing to the colored soldiers and most damaging to 
the peaceful and early establishment of the federal supremacy in 
rebellious territory. 

298 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Second. That in view of the facts we will appeal to the people 
of the North, and will carnc-stly appeal to cont^rcss that the state 
of Mississippi be not restored to federal relations unless by her 
constitution she shall enfranchise her loyal colored citizens. 

June 23 the pre>ident of the railroad from New Orleans to 
Canton reported it in excellent condition north of P'onchatoula, 
"except that some bridges required repairing-." From the fol- 
lowing specified statement an idea may be gathered of what was 
called ^'excellent condition'' : The company is running one locomo- 
tive from Brookhaven to Jackson, and one from Jackson to Can- 
ton." The merchants of New Orleans were urged to advance 
$50,000 necessary to repair the bridges on the road. This road, 
now a part of the I. C. main line, had for its then president, Judge 
C. C. Shackelford of Canton. 

July 19th the following notice was published from headquarters 
of the northern district of Mississippi concerning the Southern 
railroad, by Col. Gordon Armstead, Adjutant General: 'T can 
inform your numerous readers on good authority that the gap 
between Pearl river and Big Black will very soon be repaired. In 
fact the road would have been in running order ere this, but for 
the unexpected delay in 'procuring spikes and ties. The track to 
Qinton will be ready for the locomotive by August oth, and to 
Big Black by the 20th or 24th at farthest." The road between 
Vicksburg and Big Black had been kept in running order by the 

While rail traffic was slow of restoration, river trade w^as in 
full blast. A score or more of regular packets were advertised 
in the river columns of the Herald, running in all the ante bellum 
lines. But postal service was still lacking. July 8th the Herald 
was bemoaning the delay: ''We ought to have mails," it said, 
"and yet we don't get them." Appointment of a postmaster was 
announced July 25th. 

More emphatic and conclusive evidence that the war was over 
was to be read in an advertisement of a sale by order of the navy 
department of *'gunboats and other vessels composing a portion 
of the Mississippi squadron." The notice carried the names, with 
description and oiTer of sale at Vicksburg and other ports, of a 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 299 

multitude of all sorts of craft of a fleet which had for the last 
two or three years of the war dominated and terrorized the lower 
river country. After playing an indispensable part in breaking 
the backbone of the Confederacy, in sealing" its downfall, they 
were put up and sold for whatever prices they w^ould bring. 

With July 1st there was terminated by a Treasury Department 
order "all restrictions upon commercial intercourse in and with 
states and parts of states, heretofore declared in insurrection, 
and on the purchase, sale and transportation of the products there- 
of. Nor will any fees or taxes be collected except those imposed 
by the customs or internal revenue laws. And the supervision 
necessary to prevent the shipment of the prohibited articles will 
be exercised only by the regular and ordinary officials under the 
revenue laws of the United States." Functions of subordinate 
officers under the old system were terminated. They were 
charged to turn over "abandoned or confiscated lands, houses or 
tenements in their possession to duly authorized officers of the 
Freedmen's Bureau, together with all moneys, books, papers and 
records relating thereto." This was a vast relief, in the cotton 
states especially. 

Though the previous activities of the thieving treasury agents 
in "winding up their affairs" did not wholly cease until some 
months later. 

Gen. G. K. Warren, who had been a corps commander in the 
Army of the Potomac, was in command of the Department of 
Mississippi at the time of the institution of provisional govern- 
ment. He Vv'as succeeded by Tdajor General Osterhaus, a corps 
commander in the army in Mississippi, June 5th. In an order 
announcing his retirement Gen. Warren, who had popularized 
himself with the citizens by his symipathetic consideration of 
their distressed slate, thus testified to their acceptance of the war's 
results and his appreciation of friendly ties formed in his brief 
stay in the state: "iMy best wishes in the future will be for them, 
and for th.e civilians of this state, who have shown by their good 
behavior, during a period v/hen all civil authority was annulled 
and military authority but imperfectly substituted, a respect for 
order and riQlit which does them honor." 

300 Mississippi Historical Society. 

On taking command General Osterhaus subdivided the siate 
into five districts, with a Brigadier General in command of each. 
He chose old and trusted citizens for his civilian appointments, 
provost marshals and conmianders of militia in their respective 
accounts. His general course was conciliatory and conservative, 
like his predecessor's. This was appreciated by the people, as 
shown in a publication in the Vicksburg Herald of a public meet- 
ing of the citizens of Issaquena, who adopted resolutions of 
thanks -to the General for the appointment of Col. W. B. Barnard. 
an old and trusted citizen as *'provost marshal," a sort of general 
supervisor over the peace and order of the country during the sus- 
pension of all civil official authority. 

July 19th General H. W. S locum was appointed to com.mand the 
department, which he had also commanded a year before. Gen- 
eral Osterhaus was continued in command of the Jackson division. 
In the published interpretation of his authority, General Slocum 
displayed patriotic and statesmanlike views of administration. He 
-was a volunteer soldier, who had served with distinction in both 
the Eastern and Western armies as corps commander. His course 
was in marked contrast with that of another civilian soldier — Gen. 
Daniel E. Sickles, v.-ho, like General Slocum, was a New York 
Democrat. As com.mander of the Carolinas General Sickles, 
while robbing the civil authorities of such power as was granted 
them, anticipated the reconstruction lav/s by enforcing race equal- 
ity of civil rights and jury service. 

August 5th General Slocum issued orders defining the line of 
military, of state and of Freedmen's Bureau jurisdiction. Mili- 
tary officers were prohibited from interfering in cases in the spe- 
cial courts organized by Governor Sharkey, involving the title of 
cotton or any other property in dispute. District and post com- 
manders were directed to prevent removal of property in dispute 
beyond the civil jurisdiction, and to hold it subject to the order of 
the court. No claim for restoration of abandoned property was 
subject of consideration except by the Freedmen's Bureau at 
Washington. District and post commanders were directed to in- 
form themselves of the duties of the Freedmen's Bureau, and to 
aid its agents in the performance of their official duties. But in 

00 c 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 301 

no case were the military officials to aid in the exercise of any 
powers not authorized by law. Until the state laws were so 
amended as to secure the rights of the Freedmen, tribunals of the 
Bureau were to adjudicate contentions between white employers 
and negro employees. But it was particularly impressed upon the 
colored man that he was given no immunides not accorded to all: 
and that he was subject to all the penalties of the law for violation 
of the law. 

The order concluded as follows : ''The class of citizens who 
are so blinded as to think of still holding colored men as slaves 
are the worst enemies of the state. On the other hand, the pro- 
fessed friend of the negro, who is constantly dwelling on his 
wrongs by his former master, constantly repeating that the gov- 
ernment has not yet granted to him all the privileges to which he 
is entitled, is the worst enemy of the colored race. The colored 
man can be improved and elevated not by m.aking him the enemy 
of the dominant race among whom he must live ; not by making 
hfm the tool of politicians, but by impressing upon him the value 
of education and of the habits of industry and thrift." Another 
order of this date, August 4th, announced that hereafter ''the 
entire charge of the municipal offices would be left with the peo- 
ple. Hereafter no taxes of any kind on property and trade to 
meet the expenses of municipal administration w^ill be imposed by 
military authority and no fines will be levied except pursuant to 
orders of a military commission. 

Absorbed as the people were in bringing some degree of order 
out of the chaos of their industrial domestic affairs, and providing 
the basis of a livelihood of their dependents, there was little time 
to bestow upon political discussions or meetings. Fortunately 
there was little faction abroad in the land — this had been extin- 
guished in the common calamity. The demagogue was conspicu- 
ous by his absence in the choice of delegates to the convention 
called by Governor Sharkey's proclamation. There was intuitive 
agreement that these should be men of sober thought, and for the 
sake of appearance and influence in the North, "original union 
men," opponents of secession. There was no contention on this 
point. Generally the people looked on the convention as limited 

302 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to the task and duty of giving in their formal acceptance of the 
results of the war; to reorganize the state's constitution and laws 
accordingly. True, there were a few voices crying in the wilder- 
ness, seeking to quibble, to split hairs with destiny, but th^y 
formed a negligible quantity. The South was whipped and the 
people knew it, arid stood ready to pay the price as they then saw 
the price to be ; the restitution of the union and the freedom of 
the slaves. With the ordinance of secession and all Confederate 
appurtenances thereof sponged off of the slate, there were few 
indeed who were not ready and willing to "settle up'' on such a 
basis, and quickly, so that the work of rebuilding the waste 
places should be begun in earnest. The candidates for seats in 
the convention, or rather the citizens called on to become dele- 
gates, with few exceptions indulged no ideas beyond such limits. 

The following from the Memphis Bulletin of July 19th reflects 
the general interest and action of the counties upon the procla- 
mation of the provisional governor and in nomination of dele- 
gates to the convention. ''There w^as a general attendance of the 
county officials of D'e Soto county at Hernando on Monday, and 
of the people from every district in the county. The county 
officials were all qualified under Governor Sharkey's proclama- 
tion. A convention was held, and Dr. Malone, T. S. Tate and 
R. T. Saunders were nominated for the state convention. Able 
and instructive speeches were made, in reference to the best 
means of reorganizing the state government, by Judges Morgan 
and Hancock, C. F. Labauve and Jno, S. James. Everyone pres- 
ent seemed to be well pleased at the action of the President in 
appointing Judge Sharkey to the governorship, and a spirit of 
cordial cooperation was evinced." 

Thus environed, the election of delegates to the convention 
passed off uneventfully. The day, August 14th, having ar- 
rived for the convention to assemble, it was called to order by 
Governor Sharkey and the roll of counties called by the secre- 
tary of state, James R. Yerger. Many of the delegates had been 
soldiers, among them Major General W. T. Martin of Adams, 
and Brigadier General W. L. Brandon of Wilkinson counties. 

Each delegate was required to present the original coj)y of the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily. 303 

amnesty oath he had subscribed, and such as failed to bring these 
asseverations of their loyalty with them were sworn over again. 
And on the next day a delegate raised the point of order, which 
was sustained, that it was incompetent for members to proceed 
with the convention business, unless they had qualified by taking 
the oath of allegiance to support the constitution of the United 
States, At this period oath taking was of the essence of loyalty 
and citizenship. It was not restricted to official or political ad- 
ministration. By an order of the Treasury Department the test 
oath was required as a condition precedent to the pursuit of 
usual vocation of a livelihood — "all persons engaged in business 
of every kind, whatever, clerks, mechanics, teachers, lawyers," 

The convention organized by electing its officials. Judge J. 
Shall Yerger, of Washington county, one of four brothers who 
all stood in the front rank of the profession of law at a period 
when the state bar was nationally famous, was chosen to preside 
over it. He had been a member of the secession convention, and 
had opposed its fateful policy to the last. But the die being cast 
he w^as faithful to his state and paid his share of war's tribute — 
one of his four sons who enlisted in the Confederate service was 
killed in battle, one died of camp exposure and sickness, and his 
plantation home w-as burned by a raiding party of Union soldiers. 
J. L. Power, a popular citizen and new'spaper publisher, was 
chosen secretary, with the famous hotel keeper of his day, "Gen- 
eral" T. C. McMacken, sergeant at arms. As the convention 
wrote a memorable chapter in state history, the names of the 
delegates are given: 

Adams County — W. T. Martin, S. N. Lampkin. 
Amite — David W. Hurst. 
Attala — Elijah Sanders, Jason Niles. 
Bolivar — L. Jones. 

Calhoun — Charles A. Lewis, Eli J. Byars. 
Carroll — William Hemingway, Jno. A. Binford. 
Chickasaw — James M. W^allace, Allen White. 
Choctaw — ^James H. Dorris, Robert C. Johnson, Robert B. 


304 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Qaiborne — James H. Maury. 

Clarke — James A. Head. 

Coahoma — W. L. Stricklin. 

Copiah — Ephraim G. Peyton, William A. Stone. 

Covington — Alex. H. Hall. 

De Soto — Reuben T. Sanders, Thomas S. Tate, F. J. Malone. 
. Franklin— K. R. Webb. 

Greene — Not represented. 

Hancock — David C. Stanley. 

Harrison — L. L. Davis. 

Hinds — William Yerger, Amos R. Johnston, George L. Potter. 

Holmes — Robert H. Montgomery, J. F. Sessions. 

Issaquena — Lawrence T. Wade. 

Itav/amba — Jno. M. Simonton, Braxton Cason, Wiley W. 
Gaither, M. C. Cummings. 

Jackson — William Griffin. 

Jasper — Caleb Lindsay. 

Jefferson — George P. Farley. 

Jones— T. G. Crawford. 

Kemper — James S. Horner, H. J. GuUey. 

Lafayette — Richard W. Phipps, H. A. Barr. 

Lauderdale — Charles E. Rushing, Peyton King. 

Lawrence — E. T. Goode. 

Leake — Dempsy Sparkman. 

Lowndes — James T. Harrison, T. C. Billups. 

Madison — William ^IcBride. 

Marion — liamilton Mayson. 

Marshall— W. C. Compton. J. F. Trotter, William Wall, Law- 
rence Johnson, J. W. C. Watson. 

Monroe — Lock E. Houston, C. Dowd. 

Neshoba — Joseph M. Loper. 

Noxubee — Hampton L. Jarnigan. 

Oktibbeha — David Pressley. 

Panola — Lemuel Matthews, Lunsford P. Cooper. 

Perry — J. Prentiss Carter. 

Pike — James B. Quin. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 305 

Pontotoc — Charles T. Bond, Joseph L. Morphis, Nicholas 
Blackwell, J. M. Wylie. 

Rankin. — Richard Cooper, Jno. B. Lewis. 

Scott — ^J. G. Owen. 

Simpson — T. R. Gowan. 

Smith — Harvey F. Johnson. 

Sunflower — William McD. Martin. 

Tallahatchie — James S. Bailey. 

Tippah — J. H. Kennedy, A. Slover, W. A. Crum. 

Tishomingo — William L. Duncan, R. A. Hill, B. C. Rives, A. 
E. Reynolds. 

Tunica — Francis A. Owens. 

Washington' — J. Shall Yerger. 

Wayne — James A. Home. 

Wilkinson — W. L. Brandon. 

Winston— A. Reid, S. W. Woodward. 

Warren — Charles Swett, T. A. Marshall. 

Yalobusha — James Weir, Robert M. Brown. 

Yazoc^J. H. Wilson, R. S. Hudson. 

General Osterhaus thus expressed his appreciation of an invi- 
tation to a seat within the bar of the convention : *'I feel the 
honor conferred on me deeply, and cannot suppress a feeling of 
justifiable pride and pleasure that my humble self was destined 
to be the first ofTice of the national force to receive such a 
friendly invitation from our returned brethren. No man can 
more earnestly desire that all the states of the republic may 
again be encircled by one bond of harmony and confidence. 
This is a fair reflection of the spirit of amity and sympathy 
entertained by union soldiers for their late foes." 

The important work of the convention was entrusted to two 
committees of fifteen each. One was *'to inquire into and report 
such alterations and amendments of the constitution as may be 
proper and expedient to restore the state of Mississippi to its 
constitutional relations to the Federal government and entitle its 
citizens to protection by the United States against invasion and 
domestic violence." A second clause of the resolution, referred 

306 Mississippi Historical Society. 

to the other committee of fifteen, recited action necessary to be 
taken "relative to the ordinance of secession, and the ratification 
of such legislative, executive and judicial acts not in conflict with 
the constitution of the United States, as were passed . . . since 
the 9th day of January, 18G1.'' Before entering upon the seri- 
ous work of the convention it was resolved that the debates and 
discussion should be stenographically reported and published ; 
for the reason as explained by Gen. William T. Martin, the dele- 
gate from Adams county, that it was ''important for us not only 
to show that the constitution we shall adopt shall show the 
spirit of oiu^ people, but it is also important to show by the 
debates the spirit in which these propositions were discussed. 
... It is necessary and proper to show that in surrendering and 
as a people giving our paroles, it is a mistake to suppose we 
merely did it to gain time. . . . Whatever can should be 
done to assure the people of the North . . . that having first 
tried the logic of schools and having failed in that, and having 
then resorted to the stern logic of arms, and having failed in 
that also, we are now honestly disposed to return to our al- 
legiance, and to make out of the disasters that have befallen us 
the best we can." There was manifest purpose behind this reso- 
lution of publicity which so truly stated the plight of the people 
of the state. Already, even as the war storm lulled, another up- 
looming cloud was emitting lurid flashes, giving warning of the 
radical design of passing the South under the rod of the iron 
rule. This it was the aim of the convention to avert. The idea 
was patriotic but vain. 

On the fourth day of the convention the committee upon alter- 
ation and amendments to the constitution reported through its 
chairman, delegate Harrison of Lowndes. The report simply 
provided for striking out sections of the constitution relative to 
slaves, and the insertion of a slavery inhibition provision as 
article 8 of the constitution. A second clause of the report was 
that the legislature should, at its next session, provide by law for 
''protection of the person and property of freedmen and guard 
them and the state from any ills that might arise from their 
sudden emancipation." The report specified certain aims of leg- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 307 

islation under this proviso. (See page 30, convention journal, 
election ordinance.) 

On the same day the committee on ordinance and laws reported 
through its chairman, delegate Johnston, of Hinds. First, the 
report declared the secession ordinance "null and void." This 
was followed by lengthy schedules of provisions of law enacted 
subsequent to secession, to be repealed or legalized according to 
their nature and class. The presentation of these reports opened 
up the field for debate under a motion for their consideration sec- 
tion by section. The first for consideration was the amendments 
striking out the slavery sections of the constitution. The conven- 
tion had its due proportion of Bourbons and hair splitters — of 
men who out of conscientious and short sighted conviction strove 
against the fated wind and tide. They indulged vain imaginings 
of limitations and exceptions to emancipation — placed stress upon 
the husks of verbiage, the exact order and form of the record 
abolishing slavery. Discussion of the section lasted three days. 
A number of substitutes to the committee action were offered 
and voted down. The main contention was upon a proposed 
substitute to recogn'ze the abolition of slavery only until the 
illegal emancipation should be annulled as unconstitutional. This 
was offered by a very able lawyer, though singularly unsophisti- 
cated in the trend of politics. Judge Potter, of Hinds county. An- 
other delusion was proposed, by Delegate Judge Hudson of 
Yazoo, that ''nothing herein contained shall be construed to 
prejudice any right to compensation from the United States for 
the loss of any slave." Very few delegates were caught by such 
supremely vain and absurd hope. Nor did the people waste their 
time with quibbling over the double sense. It sufficed with tliem 
that their slaves were freed in fact by the Appomattox cataclysrii. 
They perceived that constitutional truisms and legal technicali- 
ties were outweighed by the sword of Brennus. Debate was 
closed by Delegate William Yerger, of Hinds, one of the state's 
greatest nrnds and lawyers. In the course of his remarks urging 
adoption of the committee report, he read a communication from 
the Judge Advocate General — approved by the Secretary of War. 
to the military commander in Mississippi, touching the jurisdic- 

308 Mississippi Historical Society. 

t'on of military courts ; using the same to illustrate how far the 
state was from being out of the woods. "That the President has 
accorded a provisional government to Mississippi," this communi- 
cation announced, "is a fact which should not be allowed to 
abridge or injudiciously affect the jurisdiction heretofore prop- 
erly assumed by the military courts. And especially is the con- 
tinued exercise of that jurisdiction called for in cases — 1st, of 
wrong or injury by citizens to soldiers ; and 2d, of assault or 
abuse of colored citizens generally. . . . Moreover, the re- 
bellion, though physically crushed, has not been officially an- 
nounced or treated as a thing of the past. The suspension of the 
writ of habeas corpus has not been terminated nor has military 
law ceased to be enforced in proper cases." This edict of the 
war department was convincingly used by Judge Yerger as an 
admonition to the convention that it was acting under duress of 
military law — that "the condition of things is as certain to re- 
main and continue, as we remain and continue determined to 
repress the proposition made by the President so to change and 
alter our organic law as to accord with existing facts." Yet 
while showing the impolicy and the absurdity of the substitute 
proviso, he indulged the illusion of "a class who probably in 
the near future may receive some compensation for loss of slaves. 
The orphan whose slave was taken from him without any hostile 
action on his part, the widow whose property was destroyed with- 
out any participation on her part in the war — there is a possi- 
bility that in the future some compensation may be made to them, 
but not until the asperities of war shall have been smoothed 
down.'' This excerpt from the most forceful speech of the con- 
vention will show how far even the wisest were from realization 
of what the future had in store for them ; of the extreme swing of 
the pendulum of revolution. 

Composed as a large majority of the convention was of men 
who had been avowed and active opponents of secession when 
the question was a vital one, it was but natural that delegates 
should stress the fact of this opposition. Yet there was a re- 
markable and a magnanimous freedom from reproach of the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 309 

leaders who four years before had embarked the state upon the 
ruinous and fatal course in search of ''peaceable secession.'' 

Although there was no disagreement upon the fact to be re- 
affirmed and recorded, so well tutored were the leaders in the 
niceties as weU as the essentials of political law, and so observant 
were they of tlie precedents and institutions of government, that 
they debated on the formula of the destruction of slavery tliree 
days. Of the three hundred pages of the convention journal, 
over one hundred pages are covered by the debate on it. As 
finally decided the momentous fact of the emancipation of the 
slaves was adopted by a vote of 87 to 11, as follows : ''The insti- 
tution of slavery having been destroyed in the state of Missis- 
sippi, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than 
in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been 
duly convicted, shall hereafter exist in this state ; and the legis- 
lature, at its next meeting, and thereafter as the public welfare 
may require, shall provide by law for the protection and security 
of the person and property of the freedmen of the state and 
guard them and the state against any evils that may arise from 
their sudden emancipation." 

The report upon the ordinance of secession coming up for 
consideration, it too, was extensively debated, as to its phraseol- 
ogy. Substitutes and changes proposed were voted down, and 
the comimittee report simply recited that "an ordinance passed by 
a former convention of the state of Mississippi on the 9th day of 
January, 1861, entitled an ordinance to dissolve the union be- 
tween the state of ^lississippi and other states united with her 
under the compact entitled the 'constitution of the United States 
of America,' is hereby declared to be null and void." 

As will be shown of the convention journal, fifty pages were 
taken up with the question of whether the secession ordinance 
should be declared "null and void," or "repealed and abrogated." 
The importance attached to this difference of verbiage may seem 
to the readers of the present day strained and exaggerated. But 
to judge with right discrimination, both the environments and 
the spirit of the times must be reckoned with. Though the stulti- 
fication of historv was of no material effect, the reason in throw- 

510 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ing- the ''null and void" tub to the whale seemed sound. In that 
view the state had never technically been out of the union and 
was therefore still in it by a strained construction. 

Thus was the curtain formally rung down — the record closed 
of the ruinous plunge, the first act in a great drama, that had 
been placed on the stage of history with the ringing of bells, the 
thunder of cannon and the fervent outpouring of story and 
song. The secession ordinance being thus rescinded by a vote of 
81 to 14, all of its subsidiaries in aid of the war were sponged 
off the slate. 

The convention next set about saving from the wreckage such 
legislative acts in the war period as were necessary to patch up 
the provisional machinery. 

It was provided in a section of an ordinance to legalize and 
support legislative enactments since January 9th, 1861, etc. : 
''Laws and parts of laws enacted since the 9th day of January, 
1861, so far as the same are not in conflict with or repugnant to 
the constitution of the United States and the laws made in pur- 
suance thereof, and of the constitution of the state as it existed 
January 1st, 18G1, or in aid of the late rebellion, with the excep- 
tion of laws in relation to crimes and misdemeanors, and except 
''an act to enable railroad companies of this state to pay the 
moneys borrowed by them," approved December 16, 1863, were 
ratified, confirmed and declared to be valid and binding. It was 
ordered that *'all acts authorizing the payment of dues to the state 
in Confederate money or notes, and all laws authorizing the dis- 
tillation of spirits on state account should no longer be en- 
forced." The same action was taken upon "the official acts of all 
acting public officers of the state since the 9th day of January, 
1861." A difticult and perplexing situation was provided for in 
the third section of the ordinance, covering "all official acts, pro- 
ceedings, judgments, decrees and orders of the several courts of 
the state." This called for a number of provisos, all being de- 
vised and drawn with the utmost circumspection by the best and 
most conscient'ous legal talent in the convention, for meeting the 
exigencies of an unprecedented situation. All such "official acts, 
judgments, decrees and orders, regular on their face," etc., with 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 311 

"all sales made by judicial officers, executed," etc., and "when 
the same have been executed by payment of purchase money, 
were legalized, ratified and confirmed, subject, nevertheless, to 
the right of appeal, writ of error, supersedeas, etc." 

"The special courts of equity heretofore or that may be here- 
after established by the provisional governor thereof" were rec- 
ognized by the convention to be in existence. But rights of ex- 
ception, wTits of error, appeal to the high court of errors and 
appeals were secured to litigants. It was further provided that 
such special courts should not be recognized after the courts 
known to the constitution and laws of the state be established, 
beyond their established business. An ordinance was adopted 
providing that a general election for representatives in congress, 
the districts being as fixed already, all state officers and members 
of the legislature, should be held October 1st, 1865. At the same 
time there was ordered a special election for all county, district, 
judicial and municipal officers. It was provided that no one 
should be qualified as an elector, or eligible to any office at said 
election unless in addition to the qualifications by the constitution 
and laws he shall have taken the amnesty oath prescribed by the 
President May 29th, 1865. Terms of office of the officials to be 
elected were to commence the third Alonday of October, when 
the legislature, it was provided, was to convene and organize. 

Other things of importance disposed of by the convention were 
a decision that "it was not practical or expedient to submit said 
several amendments and ordinances to the 'people' ; the selection 
of a committee to prepare and report to the next legislature for 
its consideration and action such laws and changes in existing 
laws of the state as to said committee may seem expedient" ; the 
appointment of commissioners to confer with the authorities at 
Washington relative to rebuilding the Mississippi river levees; 
the transmission to President Johnson of a memorial signed by 
4,633 ladies of the state in behalf of President Davis and Gover- 
nor Clark, who were in imprisonment; memorializing the Presi- 
dent for removal of negro troops from the state. There was 
earnest debate upon a resolution for punishing the crimes of 
grand larceny, robbery, rape, arson and burglary, with the pen- 

8 It Mississippi Historical Society. 

alty of death. It was rejected, though strong reasons for its 
adoption were urged. The lawlessness of bands of robbers car- 
ried over from the war had not yet run its course, and called 
urgently for extraordinary measures of suppression. Disorders 
were greatest and more prolonged in the western counties, in the 
river section. 

In pronouncing the convention adjourned, its president, Judge 
J. S. Yerger, the delegate from Washington county — who was in 
the same category of lawyers and statesmen as his brother, the 
delegate from Hinds — delivered an impressive address. He con- 
gratulated the convention upon the absence of partisan heat ; the 
freedom from unbecoming recurrences of past difference of opin- 
ion. '*We have all met together," he said, **'in a spirit of for- 
bearance and harmony — as I believe and trust in God this great 
people will come together again as brothers of a common land 
and children of our common inheritance." He alluded with deep 
feeling to his "fortune to occupy a seat on the floor in strange 
times and during startling history. I was here when iVIississippi 
was covered with the desolatory consequence of comm-ercial dis- 
aster and ruin. ... I was here to witness the state of Mis- 
sissippi in the hour of delusion of her people lay hand to the 
destruction of the fabric of the constitution and the union of their 
states. I was a delegate to that convention. I raised my voice 
against what I believed to be sacreligious wrong. It was in vain. 
I bowed my head in sorrow. ... I have again met the rep- 
resentatives of the sovereignty of the people of Mississippi in this 
convention ; come together that they may, if possible, restore 
Mississippi to her proper and constitutional relations with the 
United States. God grant, gentlemen, that your deliberations 
and example may aid in the commemoration of this result." With 
thoughts thus touclied by saddest of reminiscences and tinged by 
the faintest glow of hope, the convention adjourned and the dele- 
gates departed for their desolated homes and impoverished con- 

At the close of the convention journal is the usual classifica- 
tion, or descriptive recapitulation, of the membership. And ap- 
pended to this is a comparative statement of pohtical affiliations 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 313 

of the two conventions of 18G1 and 1865. It reflects the story of 
the vast change that swept over the spirits of the people — their 
readiness to break away from the bonds of a dead and blood 
stained past, and bow to the visitations of the darkly overcast 
present. Both bodies were alike composed of able and patriotic 
men. The change is recited in the following from the foot note 
referred to: "Of the 97 members of the convention of 1865, 
total Whigs 70. Democrats 18. Conservatives, et cet., 9. The 
convention of 1861 consisted of Democrats 84, Whigs 25. Of the 
seven members of the convention of 1861 who served in that of 
1865, six had voted against secession." This change had not been 
the result of a struggle at the polls. As a rule there was a tacit 
agreement in the counties, the good policy of which was palpable, 
of retirement of the leaders of the party identified, if not charge- 
able, with the awful plunge of the state into secession. There 
was no protest against this policy. It was indeed anticipated in 
large measure, by the voluntary self-efTacement of the men who 
had controlled state afifairs prior and leading up to the outbreak 
of war. 

The work of the convention did not escape criticism. The 
first to assemble and institute provisional government of all, its 
proceedings had been regarded with national interest. Radical 
organs assailed the convention for ignoring consideration of the 
political rights of the negroes. Even Northern Democrats were 
disappointed that those of education and superior intelligence 
were not granted the ballot. What was desired was indicated in 
the following letter from President Johnson to Governor Shar- 
key, and submitted by him to the convention without remark : 

"I am gratified to see that you have organized your convention 
without difficulty. I hope that without delay your convention 
will amend your state constitution abolishing slavery, and deny- 
ing to all future legislatures the power to legislate that there is 
property in men ; also that they will adopt the amendn-hent to the 
constitution of the United States abolishing slavery." 

The delegates to the convention had been elected as conserva- 
tives and reactionaries. They were profoundly sensitive to im- 
pressions of Northern radicals of their action. They understood 

314 Mississippi Historical Society. 

they were being watched — that every move and word would be 
taken down in a critical or hostile spirit. There was every desire 
to give assurance of the acceptance by the state of the decrees 
and results of the war, and to effect a restoration of civil govern- 
ment. All felt gratified to the President, and wanted to support 
his administration. But there was not one voice raised in the con- 
vention favorable to his expressed wish for even a restricted 
negro suffrage. Not even the war's bitter experience, or fear of 
the dh-e hate of the radicals, could move the deep seated resolu- 
tion for a pure and undeiiled w^hite governed state. While the 
people, and first the leaders, were subsequently coerced into sur- 
rendering this citadel, the ripened fruit of the evil tree has proved 
that the 1865 instinct against negro suffrage w^as right; and the 
struggle and sacrifice in rejecting it until physically coerced was 
due their race, their state and themselves. 

The tenacity of the opposition to extending this privilege to 
the negroes only deserves notice as a mark of how Httle men's 
feelings on the race question had been changed by the emanci- 
pation proclamation and the conquest of the slave states. 

While the convention's act of omission was held to be its chief 
offense, there were other subjects of criticism. One was an 
amendment to the bill of rights, authorizing the legislature to 
dispense with indictments for certain misdemeanors and for pro- 
ceedings in information, for prosecution before justices of the 
peace. This was construed as of evil design toward the negro, I 

and was held up in the North as foreshadowing design of re- 
enslavement. It in fact was in imperative conformity to the new 
social condition. 

The follov/ing correspondence passed between Governor Shar- 
key and President Johnson, while the convention was in session: 

Washington, D. C, August 24, 1865. 
Governor W. L. Sharkey, Jackson, Miss. : 

Your dispatch received. I am much gratified to hear of your 
proceedings being so favorable. If you need military force to 
preserve order and enforce the law, you will call upon the com- 
mandant of the department. General Slocum, who will furnish it 
to you. I would not organize the militia until further advances 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 315 

are made in the restoration of State authority. The mihtary 
authority and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus will be 
withdrawn at the earliest moment it is deemed safe to do so. 
Your convention can adopt the amendment to the Constitution of 
the United States, or recommend its adoption by the legislature. 
You no doubt see the turn that is being given to the attempts in 
the south to restore State governments by the extreme men in 
the north ; hence the importance of being prompt and circum- 
spect in all that is being done. 

The proceedings in Mississippi will exert a powerful influence 
on the other States which are to act afterwards. 

God grant you a complete success, and that your doings will set 
an example that will be followed by all the other States. 

Andrew Johnson, 
President United States. 

Executive Mansion, 
Washington, D. C, August 22, 1865. 
Governor Wm. L. Sharkey, Jackson, Miss. : 

Information comes to me that reports are freely circulating in 
influential quarters, and where, without contradiction, they are 
calculated to do harm, to the effect that, in appointments to office 
and in the recommendations for appointments, the true Union 
men are totally ignored and the provisional governors are giving 
a decided preference to those who have participated in the re- 
bellion. The object of such representations is to embarrass the 
government in its reconstruction policy, and while I place no 
reliance in such statements, I feel it due to you to advise you of 
the extended circulation they have gained, and to impress upon 
you the importance of encouraging and strengthening, to the 
fullest extent, the men of your State who have never faltered in 
their allegiance to the government. Every opportunity should be 
made available to have this known and understood as your policy 
and determination. Acknowledge the receipt of this telegram. 

Andrew Johnson, 
President United States. 

Jackson, Miss., August 25, 1865. 
A. Johnson, President : 

Your two despatches are received. I have endeavored to avoid 
the appointment or recommendation of secessionists, both from 
inclination and duty. It has been an indispensable requisite that 
parties applying should be free from this objection. Perhaps in 
a few unimportant instances parties objectionable in this respect 

316 Mississippi Historical Society. 

may have been accidentally appointed, but never from design. 
I was desired in one instance by recommendation, good, as I 
thought, after having charged the parties that appointees must 
be unobjectionable in this particular, but it was for a temporary 
office. I am sure the Union men are satisfied. 

I notice what you say about the militia. They will leave us in a 
helpless condition. General Slocum has no cavalry, and has not 
force enough to protect us. His negro troops do more harm than 
good when scattered through the country. 

W. L. Sharkey. 

Wliile there is no official record of this singular correspondence, 
there is no reason to doubt its authenticity. It was widely pub- 
lished and without challenge. It is a faithful reflection of the 
political temper of the times — of a North sw^ept away from the 
constitutional moorings by the tempests of w^ar and the low state 
to' which ill fate had brought a Southern state. It tells of the 
timidity of the President in running counter to the tide of persecu- 
tion that was rising high in the North. That prime minister 
of hate, Thaddeus Stevens, was already "riding the whirlwind 
and directing the storm." A speech he delivered at his home, 
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sounded the key note — a veritable tocsin 
of relentless wrath — of the Radical reconstruction policy. Con- 
fiscation, desolation and degradation of tlie whole South was his 
theme. In a comment upon this speech, made early in September, 
1865, the New York Tribune, edited by the famous abolitionist, 
Horace Greeley, said : 

*'The Hon. Thaddeus Stevens is one of the ablest living states- 
men of this or any country, and his opinions bear the weight 
which is commanded by unquestioned honesty and ripe experi- 
ence. Mr. Stevens is one of the few intrinsically great men now 
left in public life." 

Having paid out this compliment, the Tribune proceeded to 
answer the speech demanding confiscation, by logical demonstra- 
tion when its atrocity called for denunciation of the speaker. 
"Unless all history is a fable," wrote Mr. Greeley, "the govern- 
ment would realize next tc nothing from this Avholesale confisca- 
tion. Marshals, judges, informers, denouncers, speculators, and 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 317 

the whole vulture tribe whom the scent of a fat carcass calls to- 
gether, would become suddenly and fabulously rich ; but precious 
little net proceeds would ever reach the treasury. Worse than 
all, the Southern people would starve to death while the trans- 
formation was in progress. No one would sow in doubt as to 
who should reap ; no one would build or repair, or make any con- 
siderable improvement on land sequestrated and about to be sold 
to the highest bidder; all would be stagnation, disgust, hesitancy. 
In our deliberate judgment, Mr, Stevens' project, if executed, 
would kill more of the blacks than the war has sent to their 
graves, and not many fewer of the whites." 

This was no answer at all to Thad Stevens. If confiscation 
involved destruction of the South the punishment was not judged 
excessive in his hate gorged heart for the sin of secession and 
war. Criticising the same speech, the New York Times said : 
"We do not believe that the people have fought this war for the 
purpose of establishing at W^ashington the most relentless despo- 
tism the civilized world has ever seen. Nor are they at all likely 
to regard the extermination of the Southern people as the most 
likely means of restoring tranquility, promoting order and form- 
ing a 'more perfect Union.' " 

But the apostle of confiscation and extermination as a means 
of perfecting the Union found disciples. In a letter read to a 
large meeting of the Union League at W^ashington, Gen. B. F. 
Butler — as reported in tlie New York Herald — echoed the 
Stevens policy. He asked for ''confiscation of Southern lands 
and their colonization by discharged soldiers and loyal negroes. 
He antic'pated that the first call for help would come from the 
slaveholders, and that Massachusetts would not be among the first 
to respond to the appeal." In plain English, General Butler an- 
t'cipated a race war, and that his section would not stir while the 
Southern white people were being butchered by their late slaves. 

The confiscation feature of the radical scheme of reconstruc- 
tion was not popular. In New York its Stevens-Butk-r leader- 
ship, wh'ch was destined to sway the Republican party and the 
nation, was so repellant that the state Republican convention, 
September 20th, adopted a resolution assuring President Johnson 

318 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of their "cordial support and full endorsement of his reconstruc- 
tion policy." 

The work of the convention was thus referred to in the New- 
York Post: ''It needs but the most trifling- change to make the 
Mississippi constitution a model instrument in any free state. 
The black stain of slavery is not woven into its texture, it is seen 
only in a bit of rag stitched on at the end. And even in this patch 
the object appears to have been more to guard tlie comfort of the 
slave, and to facilitate his emancipation, than to care for the privi- 
lege of the slave owner." 

The rival view of the Mississippi convention's work is to be 
had in the following from the Worcester Spy, one of the most 
influential papers of the times, in ^Massachusetts. It was edited 
by Jno. D. Baldwin, a member of congress : 

"There is a question of greater importance in which the coun- 
try has some interest, but which does not appear to have occurred 
to this convention. The population of Mississippi is not far from 
six hundred thousand, of whom more than one-half were for- 
merly slaves, but under the new constitution will be a part of the 
free, representative population of the state. Before the war the 
proportion of the white male population to the black, throughout 
the state, was very nearly equal. Yet the former, with all the ex- 
ecutive and legislative power restored to them, recognize the ex- 
istence of the latter only in a preposition to provide for them a 
kind of substitute for slavery as an offset to the 'evils of emanci- 

"Three hundred and twenty thousand blacks, under the consti- 
tution now offered for our acceptance, have no place in the courts 
of that state, have no public provisions made for their education, 
have no influence present or pro-^pective upon the character of the 
laws by which they are, and are to be, governed. While they are 
counted for all the other purposes of representation, they are for- 
bidden to say what that representation shall be, and are treated in 
every respect as a degraded and subject race. If there were no 
questions of policy involved, no considerations of public safety to 
be thought of, a decent regard for justice would require us to say 
to such an application: 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily. 319 

'* 'The United States can be no party to oppression ; your con- 
stitution neither represents the people of Mississippi nor promises 
to provide for their representation hereafter; one-half the people 
of your state cannot bear tesiimony in your courts, nor exercise 
those rights which in a republic are the pride and the safety of a 
freeman; you have simply reorganized a government of privi- 
lege — the rule of a class, and with that the F"ederai government 
can have no S}Tnpathy.' " 

To this harsh and bitter indictment of the convention, reason 
supplied the answer that the omissions charged against it had been 
relegated, and rightly, to the legislature. The convention was 
summoned to so amend and shape the organic law that the legis- 
lature which it called could authoritatively provide for the radical 
and far reaching changes known as results of the war. The con- 
vention could, consistently with the President's proclamation, and 
its character as an organic body, do no more than prepare the 
ground. But radicalism was athirst and not to be denied. The 
abolitionists and South haters, who were fast swelling into the 
majority, saw nothing in the arbitrament of arms but negro equal- 
ity as an instrument of vengeance. What they aimed at and 
finally achieved, was the placing of "black heels on white necks." 
This was clearly divined by the far-seeing. It was revealed to 
the convention by Judge W^illiam Yerger. whose remarks are 
quoted below. He had gone with Judge Sharkey, as already re- 
lated, to consult the President upon the duty and policy of the 
state in June. 18G5. iHe said in his speech that he had made it his 
business to ascertain public sentiment as far as he could, during 
his journey from Ca-ro to the capital, on the Southern question. 
He found all were agreed that "slavery had been rubbed out by 
the friction of war." On this point there w^as no two opinions. 
"But," said Judge Yerger, *T did find, Mr. President, that there 
were two parties at the North upon the position that the Southern 
states should have under the government of the United States, 
and in reference to the place which the negro should hold under 
the constitution and the laws. Upon this question two parties 
were arrayed, and were preparing for the struggle which is now- 
imminent. Upon one side . . . the ultra radicals, . . . 

^;-i^; ■.,.:./ 

320 Mississippi Historical Society. 

strong in numbers, powerful in intellect and vigorous in prosecut- 
ing every plan which their fanaticisms, or their opinions of right 
and constitutional law suggested to their fertile and scheming 
brains. That party insists that the Southern people having with- 
drawn from the government of the United States, by an act of 
secession — which although void and unconstitutional as to the 
government — have estopped themselves from insisting upon a re- 
turn to the government of states, except on such terms as may be 
accorded by the parties who have triumphed in the contest. They 
insist that for a period of time indefinite in its length, the South- 
ern states shall be kept in territorial organization — that they shall 
remain under martial law — that they shall remain under the con- 
trol of the Federal government and Federal bayonets, until the 
scheme of universal suffrage, which these gentlemen have sprung 
upon the country shall have ripened into perfection. Then, hav- 
ing thus carried into effect this scheme, they will present a con- 
vention of the states to be assembled — an organization of state 
authority take place, and a return as states into the Union; but 
not as President Johnson proposes we shall now return, but with 
members of congress composed of white and black, with equal 
suffrage, with equal civil rights, with equal political rights, W'ith 
equal social standing on the part of the negro. That is their 
platform and their fixed determination is — if they have the 
power — to carry it into effect." This singularly clear exposition 
of Northern political sentiment, and prophetic prefiguration of 
the radical pol'cy and programme, is published in the Journal of 
the convention of August. 1865. 

The difficulties of at once harmonizing the provisional and the 
military state governments, weighed upon as the situation was by 
the new dual race relationship, soon cropped out. Under the 
theory that the administration of justice was biased in favor of 
the whites the following order was issued, August 13th, by Secre- 
tary of War Stanton ; in the case of a white man who had been 
wrested from the civil authorities while undergoing trial for 
shooting a negro: 

"Major General Slocum : Colonel Samuel Thomas, assistant 
commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau, has been directed to turn 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 321 

over to you a man who had been arrested by his order for shoot- 
ing a negro. You will receive the man in your custody, cause 
him to be tried before a commission and carry its sentence into 
effect. If any effort be made to release him by habeas corpus 
you are directed to disobey tlie writ and arrest the person issuing 
it or attempting to execute it and report for further orders." 

Under this direction the civil judge issuing such writ was ar- 
rested. Thereupon Governor Sharkey carried his ''appeal to 
Caesar." He cited the President's proclamation showing that 
General Slocum had transcended the limitations it defined; that 
while the militar}/^ was only directed to aid the civil authorities in 
the administration of government, the general had usurped a con- 
trolling power. General Slocum made the point in reply that his 
action was justified by the state's practice under which the negro 
was not a qualified legal witness. Until this rule was changed by 
the legislature, he contended that in such cases the military tribu- 
nal was the proper one. The President sustained the military 
commander — the Governor being admonished that it was **inex- 
pedient to rescind the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus" — 
that ''anarchy must in any case be prevented as the process of 
reorganization though seemingly begun very well, v/as only be- 
gun." General Slocum took occasion at this time, August 15th, 
to publish an order from the war department, embracing a ruling 
by the Judge Advocate General upon the jurisdiction of the mili- 
tary courts, and the status and authority of the provisional gov- 
ernment. The order is quoted in full : 

War Department, 
Bureau of Military Justice, 

July 25, 1SG5. 
The trials by military commission of the within named citizens 
of Mississippi, (Cooper, Downing, and Saunders.) charged with 
capital, and other gross assaults upon colored soldiers of our 
army, (and in one instance of similar treatment of a colored fe- 
male) should be at once proceeded with; and all like cases of 
crime in that locality should be promptly and vigorously prose- 
cuted. That the president has accorded a provisional government 
to the state of Mississippi is a fact which should not be allowed to 
abridge or injuriously affect the jurisdiction heretofore properly 

322 Mississippi Historical Society. 

assumed by military courts in that region during the war. And 
especially is the continued exercise of that jurisdiction called for 
in cases — 1st, of wrong- or injury done by citizens to soldiers. 
(whether white or black ;) — and 2d, of assault or abuse of colored 
citizens generally ; where, indeed, the local tribunals are either 
unwilling (by reason of inherent prejudice;) or incapable (by 
reason of the defective machinery, or because of some state law 
declaring colored persons incompetent as witnesses), to do full 
justice, or properly punish offenders. 

The state of Mississippi, in common with other insurgent states, 
is still in the occupation of our forces, and — embraced as it is in a 
military department — is still to a very considerable extent under 
the military authorities. Moreover, the rebellion, though physi- 
cally crushed, has not been officially announced or treated either 
directly or indirectly, as a thing of the past ; the suspension of the 
writ of habeas corpus has not been terminated, nor has military 
law ceased to be enforced, in proper cases, through the agency of 
military courts and military commanders, in all parts of the 

August 30 another case of disputed jurisdiction was appealed 
to the Provisional Governor by the mayor of Jackson. A negro 
was shot and killed while in the act of stealing chickens. Avow- 
ing the act, the man who fired the fatal shot, submitted his person 
to the mayor, D. N. Barrows. While the case was being tried by 
him. General Osterhaus sent a gxiard of soldiers, which took the 
prisoner out of the custody and jurisdiction of the city authority. 
The mayor, D. N. Barrows, reported the facts of the case to Gov- 
ernor Sharkey, saying *T was about to commence the trial, when 
Major Hissing, provost marshal general, came to my office and 
stated that he was directed by Major General Osterhaus to de- 
mand the prisoner. I stated to him that I had the right, and it 
was made my duty as an officer of the law, to hold him in custody 
until he was thence discharged by due course of law. and I could 
not give him up. Whereupon Major Hissing called a guard of 
armed men, marched into my office and took the prisoner from 
my custody by force. Having been appointed by yourself to the 
office of mayor, and being desirous in all cases, so far as in my 
power, to perform my duty, I submit this statement of facts and 
ask your protection and advice." 

There was no recourse to the complainant save submission. 
But republication v/as made in the Vicksburg Herald a few days 
after of paragraph 7, circular No. 5, Freedmen's Bureau, with 
General Order No. 10, holding out to the civil authorities the 
oflfer of sole jurisdiction, if negro testimony were accepted in 

War and Reconstruction in Mi.ssissippi — McNeily. 323 

cases where persons of that race were on trial. The republication 
closed as follows : 

"In cities or counties where mayors, judicial officers and magis- 
trates will assume the duties of the administration of justice to the 
freedmen, in accordance with paragraph 1, Circular No. 5, issued 
from the Bureau of Refui^e, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 
and approved by the president, and will signify their willingness 
to comply with this request by a written acceptance addressed to 
the assistant commissioner for the state, no freedmen's courts will 
be established, and those that may now be in existence in such 
locahties will be closed. 

It is expected that the offtcers of this bureau will heartily co-op- 
erate with the state ofiticials in establishing law and order, and 
that all conflict of authority and jurisdiction will be avoided. 
By order of 

Assistant Commissioner Freedmen's Bureau for State of Mis- 

The following consequential order was published: 

Qfifice Ass't Commissioner, 
For State of Mississippi. 

Vicksburg, Jvliss., Sept. 22, 1865. 

The mayor of this city having signified his willingness to al- 
low negroes the right to testify before his court and to impose 
the same penalties upon negroes violating state laws or city or- 
dinances, as would be imposed upon white persons committing the 
same crime, it is hereby ordered that the officers of this bureau 
shall in no case interfere with the city authorities in the discharge 
of their duties, and shall take cognizance of no case coming with- 
in the jurisdiction of the mayor of the city, but turn over ail such 
to the mayor for trial. 

September 29th Gov. Sharkey formally accepted, in a proc- 
lamation, the proposition of Col. Thomas, assistant commissioner 
Freedman's Bureau for Mississippi, transferring to the civil au- 
thorities the right to try all cases in which the rights of freedmen 
are involved, whether for injuries done to their person or prop- 
erty. The governor expressed the opinion that the late constitu- 
tional amendment abolishing slaverv', abolished all laws which 
constituted a part of the system of slavery. Declaring that the 
negro should be protected in his person and property was recog- 
nition of principles which, of themselves, entitled the negro to sue 
and be sued, and as a necessarv incident to such riglu. he was 

324 Mississippi Plistorical Society. 

made competent as a witness according to the laws of evidence 
of the state. The Governor's view was not generally accepted 
as logical or tenable in law. The question he passed upon was an 
issue in the election of the legislature. It was fully recognized 
and accepted by the assistant commissioner of the Freedmtn's 
Bureau, and made the basis of the very important General Or- 
der No. 13, of the Bureau, dated October 31st, the first section 
reading as follows : 

''The conditions of General Order No. 8, from this office, and 
of the Proclamation of his Excellency, Wm. L. Sharkey, Pro- 
visional Governor, providing for the admission of the testimony 
of Freedmen in the courts of the state, have been so generally 
accepted by the judicial of^cers, and carried out in such good 
faith, that the officers of this Bureau have discontinued Freedmen 
Courts in nearly every locality." 

The hope was expressed in the order that "ih.c same honorable 
determination, to grant the Freedmen of the state impartial jus- 
tice, which induced the officers of the civil government to admit 
them to the witness stand and protect them in their rights be- 
fore the courts, will continue now that the inte^e^ts of these peo- 
ple are more fully committed to their care; and that new laws 
may be placed upon the statute books of the state regulating the 
subjects spoken of in this order, in accordance with the new con- 
dition of affairs." 

The order prescribed, ''however, that it was of the highest 
consequence that on account of the ignorance and poverty of the 
freed people, they be assisted in presenting their causes in the 
courts, advised as to their rights and the proper modes of main- 
taining them before the tribunals, and even aided with profes- 
sional counsel when justice can in no other way be secured." 

Gen. Slocum, published the following, which states the au- 
thority and the rule under which he w^as acting: 

Bureau Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned I^nds. 

Washington, May 31, 1SG5. 
Circular No. 5. 
Rules and Regulations for Assistant Commissioners. 

VII. In all places where there is an interruption of civil law, 
or in which local courts, by reason of old codes, in violation of 
the freedom guai-anteed by the proclamation of the President and 
laws of congress, disregard the negroes' right to justice before 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 325 

the laws, in not allowing him to give testimony, the control of all 
subjects relating to Refugees and Freedmen being committed to 
this Bureau, the assistant commissioners will adjudicate, either 
themselves or through oflicers of their appointment, all difficul- 
ties arising between negroes and whites or Indians, except those 
in military service ,so far as recognizable by military authority, 
and not taken cognizance of by the other tribunals, civil or mili- 
tary, of the United States. 

O. O. Howard, Major General, 
Commissioner Bureau of Refugees Freedmen, etc. 
Approved, June 2, 1865. 

Andrew Johnson, 
President of the United States. 

General Orders No. 10. 
Headquarters Department of Mississippi, Vicksburg, Miss., Aug. 

4, 1865. 

This order, (Circular No. 5, Paragraph VH., Bureau Refugees, 
Freedmen and Abandoned Lands,) however, must not be so con- 
strued as to give the colored man immunities not accorded to oth- 
er persons. K he is charged with the violation of any law of the 
state, or an ordinance of any city, for which offense the same 
penalty is imposed upon white persons, as upon black, and if 
courts grant to him the same privileges as are accorded to white 
men, no interference on the part of the military authorities will 
be permitted. Several instances have recently been reported in 
which military officers, claiming to act under the authority of the 
order above mentioned have taken from the custody of the civil 
authorities negroes arrested for theft and other misdemeanors^ 
even in cases where the courts were willing to concede to them 
the same privileges as are accorded to white persons. These of- 
ficers have not been governed by the spirit of the order. The 
object of the government is not to screen this class from just 
punishment ; not to encourage in them the idea that they can be 
guilty of crime and escape its penalties ; but simply to secure to 
them the rights of freemen, holding them, at the same time, sub- 
ject to the same laws by which other classes are governed. 

By order of Maj. Gen. Slocum. 

These orders, while in accordance with the policy dictated by 
the overthrow of the Confederacy and the ensuing Southern con- 
dition, materially trenched upon the express authority, the scope 
of administration, of the provisional government. But it did 

326 Mississippi Historical Society. 

no more than place in due form what was a self evident fact. 
Nor in dispassioned thought upon the temper of the times, the 
then social condition, environed by industrial and social revolu- 
tion, can the part claimed for the military be condemned as ty- 
rannical. Other clashes of authority over disputes and frays be- 
tween white citizens and negro soldiers or civilians followed. 

Other matters and measures were carried in General Order 
No. 13. Vagrants, orphans and indigents, the marrying of ne- 
groes, were remitted by Commissioner Thomas to the state and 
local authorities tinder the laws of the state. The following as 
to freedmen's contracts and wages comprised by far the more 
important part of the order : 

X. Freedmen may contract to labor for the year 1806 ; but 
no contracts will be made to extend beyond December Slst, 1866. 
No rules or regulations w^ill be issued from this office regulating 
the price to be paid for labor, or the amount of food or clothing 
to be furnished. The demand in different localities will be al- 
lowed to regulate the price. Contracts will be filed with sub- 
commissioners of this bureau, w^ho will carefully examine each 
contract, and protect the ignorant freedmen from imposition. 
Subcommissiqners will be governed in their estimates of the 
.worth of freedmen's labor by the amount received by former 
owners for the hire of slaves in that locality. Of course the com- 
plete change in circumstances must be considered. In localities 
where no freedmen bureau officers are stationed, magistrates are 
hereby authorized to act as agents of this bureau and file contracts 
made with freedmen. Freedmen should be urged to contract 
for the coming year, secure good homes, and avoid the risk of be- 
ing thrown out of employment. 

XI. It has been reported to this office that many of the more 
ignorant freedmen are expecting that something will happen 
about the holidays that will be greatly to their interest, and for 
that reason are not willing to contract for work next year till 
after that time. Nothing of the kind will happen. What they 
gain in property or advancement of any kind wall come after 
patient labor, by which they may merit such reward. 

XII. All acts of lawlessness or violence by any body of freed- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — \fcNeily. 327 

men will be suppressed by force. Officers of the bureau will, 
upon the discovery of any organization among- the freeduien for 
resistance to law, or destruction of life or property, disarm all 
such dangerous persons, and use every possible measure to 
prevent any action on their part, that would bring them nothing 
but misery and death. 

XIII. Idleness and vagrancy will not be allowed among the 
freedmen. They must not expect peculiar immunities. No lands 
or property of any kind will be divided among them. The gov- 
ernment will feed none but those who are utterly unable to care 
for themselves. All ideas of ''a good time coming," when there 
will be no work to do, and the freedmen will be supported by the 
government, or by the division of the property of the citizens of 
this state, are foolish and wrong; calculated to injure the inter- 
ests of freedmen, deprive them of good homes, make them un- 
happy and disappointed, and arouse prejudice against them as 
freedmen among the people who should be their friends, who 
will employ and pay them for their labor when it is honestly 

A few days after the issuance of the above order Gen. O. O. 
Howard, chief commissioner of the bureau, addressed the ne- 
groes, in Vicksburg. His speech was thus referred to in the Her- 
ald: "His remarks were very appropriate and well timed. He gave 
them good advice and if they follow it out, there will be no cause 
of hostility between the two races." 

There was nothing in the declaration of either General How- 
ard, or Col. Thomas, to cross the presumption of honest and patri- 
otic motives, and that their feelings and intentions toward the 
white people were kindly and hopeful. But for net good effects, 
their task was as impossible as to grow figs from thistles. Re- 
sults depended upon the patriotism, the understanding and the 
temperament of fifty odd sub-commissioners of districts and 
county posts. These officials, entire strangers to the country and 
tlTe people, were detailed from the volunteer force, mainly the ne- 
gro regiments. Cliiefly mercenary and prejudiced adventurers 
they were given absolute jurisdiction over transactions and re- 
lations between white employers and black employees. They 

328 Mississippi Historical Society. 

were made arbiters of labor contracts and agreements and of dis- 
putes and differences growing out of them. The bureau ex- 
tended aid in the way of supplies to the indigent, medical atten- 
tion to the sick, education to the aspiring. The sub-commission- 
ers were especially enjoined to call on the negroes to come to them 
for instruction m their rights, ask redress of complaints and 
charges of being wronged. The negroes were taught that as 
their protectors, the bureau agent was above the courts, the state 
law and officials. What mattered it if they wxre told, at the 
same time, to be industrious and well behaved toward their 
former masters ?. The mere advent of a sub-commissioner — clothed 
with power over the class they had for generations looked upon 
as supreme — a stranger to the people and a presumptive hostile, 
was the certain cause and signal of discontent and discord upon 
the plantation; the radiator of unrest and insubordination. The 
forerunner of the carpet bagger to come, the bureau naturally in- 
cited the negro to revolt against any form or degree of the direc- 
tion or dictation of the land owner. Under grievances, some- 
times real and often imaginary or frivolous, the ignorant, simple 
minded, suspicious negroes swarmed around the posts of the 
btireau. Planters were invited or summoned to answ'cr or ex- 
plain complaints which entertained, even if decided against the 
complainants, as they commonly were, were destructive of the 
system of discipHne that his success depended on. Requiring 
contracts to be written and filed helped matters little, w^hcn they 
were, in fact, only binding on the planter. In some counties there 
were openly inimical relations engendered between the planter 
and the bureau officials. Publication v/as made in a local paper 
of the meeting of citizens of Zion Hill, in Amite county, to in- 
vestigate an official report by Captain Mathews of the bureau, 
that Jno. H. McGehee of that neighborhood, "had murdered a 
negro and nailed his skin to his barn door." Publications were is- 
sued denying the report as malignantly false, without foundation 
and courting official enquiry. 'Tt is thus," commented the paper, 
the Wilkinson Journal, ''that the Southern people are defamed by 
the very men sent among us for restoration of order and peace. 
And such reports are readily believed by people with ears open 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 329 

for anything to advance their poHtical schemes." Fortunately 
many if not the majority of the siibcommissioners had the itching 
palm. For dismissing charges or compelHng the return of ab- 
sconding freedmen, the fee ranged from ten to a hundred dollars. 
Some of the bureau sub-commissioners were men of integrity. 
But to such the position soon became as distasteful as it was 
difficult. Under such circumstances some went in for an easy 
time. Parties involved were left to settle their own differences 
and this general plan yielded the best ends and the least wrong. 
A!s a rule the longer a sub-commissioner remained in a post, the 
less he exercised his powers. That is if these Union soldiers 
studied the situation and the people they had to deal with, they 
unlearned much that prejudice or the previous point of view had 

From the viewpoint of the emancipationists, the freedmen's 
bureau was a right and necessary institution. The slave holders 
were regarded as tyrannical taskmasters, resentful and rebellious 
against the fact of emancipation and not to be trusted for hu- 
mane and fair treatment of the freedmen. It was asserted by the 
Radical leaders that unless restrained by force they were deter- 
mined to establish a condition tantamount to slavery. Under 
such theory it w^as thought to be the duty of the government j 

after setting the negro free, to provide for the security of their | 

freedom and protection against oppression from the holders of j 

the land, their former owners. Such was the reasoning out of j 

which grew the freedmen's bureau. It is not to be denied a de- 
gree of apparent logic. And while the creative power was 
streaked with prejudice and sectional antipathy, it may be con- 
ceded there was mitigation of culpability for a policy which pr.n-cd 
evil, in the temper of the times which clouded wisdom. Though 
such admissions do not shake the inflexible and soon demon- 
strated truth of the matter; that adjustment, despite whatever 
of wrong doing and oppression was sure to follow, had in- 
finitely better have been left to work itself out without outside di- 
rection or restraint. True, hardship and wrong were certain. 
But, left alone, in time justice and fairness would have prevailed. 
The wisdom of self interest and the public welfare, the dictates 

330 Mississippi Historical Society. 

of conscience, would have ruled, as they could not through the 
coercive force applied to the whites. Or if the co-operating gov- 
ernment felt called upon to exercise protective jurisdiction, the 
army and military law was sufticient. Better to have doubled 
the garrisons and prolonged the occupation, than the setting up 
of the bureau machinery in the South. Nothing could ever offset 
or undo the evil of the intrusion of the bureau officials, and 
their demoralizing effect upon the negro. To avoid the one and 
correct the other, those who directed the policy and the system 
of the bureau were powerless, however constant in striving 
against the bad fruit of the tree. A few days after the circular 
of instructions above quoted on November 11th, Major General 
and Commissioner Howard published the following: 

"It is constantly reported to the commissioner and his agents 
that the freedmen have been deceived as to the intention of the 

It is said that lands will be taken from the present holders and 
be divided among them on next Christmas or New Year. This 
impression, wherever it exists, is wrong. 

All officers and agents of this bureau are hereby directed to 
take every possible means to remove so erroneous and injurious 
an impression. They will further endeavor to overcome other 
false reports that have been industriously circulated abroad with 
a purpose to unsettle labor and give rise to disorder and suffer- 
ing. Every proper means will be taken to secure fair written 
agreements or contracts for the coming year, and the freedmen 
instructed that it is for their best interest to look to the property 
holders for employment. 

The commissioner deprecates hostile action and wishes every 
possible exertion made to produce kind feeling and mutual con- 
fidence between the blacks and the whites." 

In the meanwhile a grave dispute arose between the military 
and the civil authorities. 

August 19th Governor Sharkey issued a proclamation upon in- 
formation that "bad men have banded in different parts of the 
state for the purpose of robbing and plundering; and the military 
authorities of the United States being insufticient to protect the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 331 

I>eople throughout the entire state, T do therefore call upon the 
people, and especially such as are liable to perform military duty, 
and are familiar with military discipline, to organize volunteer 
companies in each county in the state, if practicable at least one 
company of cavalry and one of infantry as speedily as possible, 
for the detection of criminals, the prevention of crime and the 
preservation of good order. These companies will be organized 
under the law in relation to volunteer companies in the revised 
code. I most urgently call upon the young men of the state who 
have so distinguished themselves for gallantr\^ to respond prompt- 
ly to this call in behalf of a suffering people." 

Governor Sharkey only took this step after it had been proved 
to be necessary' — that with the military in the state composed as 
it was mostly of negroes, other machinery was needed in cer- 
tain sections. Nevertheless, the summons of the militia was 
promptly challenged by General Osterhaus, who held that it was 
his duty to prohibit military organizations unless specially author- 
ized by the war secretary or the department commander, Gen. 
Slocuni. He declared that the number of troops was ample, if 
they could have the earnest co-operation of the civil authorities. 
Governor Sharkey did not yield — he cited to the complaints of 
robberies which showed the need of the agency of correction he 
had summoned. In addition to the nightly hold up of the stages 
betw^een Vicksburg and Jackson he referred to information from 
various portions, of the state, remote from military posts, where 
robberies and outrages upon persons and property w^ere com- 
mitted. The following from the iMemphis Bulletin describes the 
general nature of the lawdessness prevailing: "We are informed 
by reliable parties that horse thieving and other depredations are 
carried on to a considerable extent in the vicinity of Olive 
Branch, DeSoto county, Mississippi, about eighteen miles from 
Memphis. Last night two weeks ago, six horses and mules were 
carried ofif, and since then ten more were spirited away in like 
manner, and brought in the direction of this city. They were 
tracked to the picket lines. The thieves are said to be negroes 
who operate in connection with white men in this city. The cit- 
izens of DeSoto county are peaceful, law-abiding people and feel 

332 Mississippi Historical Society. 

that they have some claims upon the aut-Iioritics for protection^ 
and it is hoped it will be extended to them or at least such meas- 
ures adopted as will enable them to j)rotect themselves." It is 
manifest that posts of infantry could do little to check these nests 
of thieving, located in practically all of the western counties. Be- 
sides, any use of the negro troops which carried them into the !n- 
terior was more than liable to bring on collision. 

As late as July 29 the Yazoo steamer Dove was captured and 
robbed by guerrillas while at the Tchula landing. The Herald of 
August 2d reported the incident as ''one of the most daring acts 
of villainy which has disgraced these troublous times." The mate 
was killed while resisting the armed desperadoes who boarded 
the boat, and Capt. Butler seriously and Qerk Basket slightly 
wounded, and $60,000 in cash and goods taken. August 13th The 
Herald reported the capture and robbery by the sajne parties of 
the steamer Keoto, in the Sunflower river. 

The Memphis paper is quoted again, as follows : "The 
negroes in the northwestern part of Tippah county have been 
growing more and more troublesome and disorderly for sev- 
eral months past. This state of things is directly traceable to the 
fact, that they have nearly all been permitted to arm themselves. 
Last week these troubles culminated in a difficulty between the 
negroes and whites, in vrhich ]Maj. Harvey Maxwell who resides 
about twelve miles south of LaGrange on the Meridian road, 
and his son. were shot and severely wounded by the rampant and 
reckless freedmen in that part of the county. This occurrence. 
and the general state of affairs, coming to the ears of the mili- 
tary authorities here, Capt. Gay Fields, of Tippah county, we 
learn, was authorized by Gen. Smith to raise a company for the 
purpose of putting down lawlessness and violence, and disarming 
the negroes. In performing this duty, we understand that Capt. 
Fields has been constantly resisted by the negroes, with arms in 
their hands, and the consequence has been that more than a dozen 
have lost their lives. A large quantity of all kinds of small arms 
— amounting, according to our informant, to ''a perfect arsenal''^ 
— has been captured and turned over to the authorities." 

Gov. Sharkey persistently claimed that he had the auth>ority 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 333 

of the president, saying in his letter replying to General Oster- 
Kaus: "If further justification were needed I may say that in 
the last interview I had with the President, in speaking of an- 
ticipated troubles, he stated distinctly to me that I could organize 
the militia if it should become necessary." With this Governor 
Sharkey stated that he should feel it his duty to carry out his 
militia policy. This was met by a peremptory order from Gen. 
Slocum, contesting the Governor's action. He claimed that the 
duty of preserving order and executing the laws and orders of 
the war department devolved upon the military authorities. He 
asserted that the proposed organization of the young men would 
be certain to increase the difficulties that beset the people. It was 
therefore ordered that district commanders give notice at once 
that no military organization except those under control of the 
United States would be pennitted within their respective com- 
m.ands and all attempts to organize the militia would be arrested. 
The order declared that ^'niost of the crimes had been committed 
against Northern men, government couriers and negroes, and that 
henceforth when an outrage of this kind was reported, a military 
force would be sent to tlie locality, and every citizen within ten 
miles of the place where the crime was committed would be dis- 
armed by the officer in conimand. If any citizen possessing in- 
formation which would lead to the capture of the outlaws re- 
fuses to impart the same, he will be arrested and held for trial. 
The troops will be quartered on his premises, and he will be com- 
pelled to provide for the support of men and animals." 

Neither the situation nor the spirit of the people called for 
such an imperious and prejudicial assertion of military suprem- 
acy. It was inexplicably inconsistent with Gen. Slocum's general 
attitude towards the people of his command, and the cordial re- 
lations he held with many. He was applauded to the echo, how- 
ever, by the radical press. The Chicago Tribune, extreme radi- 
cal, said *'his overriding of Governor Sharkey would make him 
a strong candidate. General Order No. 22 entitles him to mem- 
bership in full standing in the Union party simply on the score of 
its eminent fitness and unquestionable propriety." Tlie subject of 

334: Mississippi Historical Society. 

this flattering endorsement indulged no such expectations of Gen- 
eral Order No. 22. 

President Johnson was loath to meet this issue which was be- 
ing held up by his political enemies as a test of his provisional 
government plan. To avoid a contest he sought to have Governor 
Sharkey forego his militia organizations. But after Gen. Slo- 
cum's arbitrary order the Governor insisted upon a decision 
as follow^s: 

Jackson, Miss., August 30, 1865. 
Andrew Johnson, President: 

In our last interview you distinctly stated to me that I could or- 
ganize the militia to suppress crime if necessary. Deeming it 
necessary, I issued a proclamation on the 19th instant, calling on 
two companies, one of cavalry, to organize in each county for the 
detection of criminals, the prevention of crime, and the preserva- 
tion of order. Not called into actual service. 

General Slocum has thought proper to issue an order to prevent 
any such organization, and to arrest those who attempt it. His 
chief reasons seem to be because I did not consult him. Here is a 
collision that must be settled, and it rests with you to do it. I 
wish to be able to vindicate myself when trouble comes, as we 
apprehend it will. Copies will be forwarded. 

W. L. Sharkey. 

The sequel is to be read in the following : 

War Department, Washington, Sept. 2d. 
Major General Slocum : 

Upon the 19th of August Governor Sharkey issued a proclama- 
tion for the formation of militia companies in each county, to de- 
tect criminals, prevent crime, and preserve good order in places 
where the military forces of the Un'ted States were insufficient to 
do so. If you have issued any order countermanding his proclama- 
tion or interfering with its execution, you will at once revoke it. 

"Acknowledge receipt of this action. 

**By order of the President of the United States. 


"Acting Asst. Secretary of War." 

With the best po'^siblo grace Gen. Slocum accepted the Pres- 
ident's decision against him. and issued the following: 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 335 

Headquarters Department of Mississippi, Vicksburg, Miss., Sept. 

4, 18G5. 
General Orders, No. 23. 

By direction of the President of the United States, General 
Orders No. 22, current series, from these head(iuarters, is hereby 

No officer will, in any manner, interfere with the organization 
of troops pursuant to the proclamation of the provisional gover- 

The order which is hereby revoked was issued, as stated there- 
in, from apprehension of danger of conflict between the state 
troops and the colored troops serving the United States and in 
the firm belief that it was in accordance with the policy of the 

It is the imperative duty of all United States ofBcers serving in 
this department to be guarded in the execution of all orders; to 
avoid giving ottense ; and in case of conflict with either officers 
or soldiers serving under the state authorities, to postpone action 
in the matter, if possible, until it has been referred to the district 
or department commander for decision. 

There entered into this controversy a person who was destined 
to exercise a baleful influence upon the reconstruction tragedy. 
The new figure on the scene was Major General Carl Schurz, 
who had left Washington early in July, commissioned by Presi- 
dent Johnson to travel through the South and report upon the 
prevailing conditions. 

Gen. Schurz was thus brought by his mission to Vicksburg in 
time to take part in the contention over Gov. Sharkey's militia 
call. As the General states he "found Gen. Slocum, the commander 
of the Mississippi department, in a puzzled state of mind," over 
the Governor's proclamation ; which had no other contempla- 
tion than the repression of crime and the punishment of robbers 
and marauders. He reported to Mr. Johnson "the organization 
of a large armed military force consisting of men who had but 
recently surrendered their arms as Confederate soldiers * * * 
a force independent of the military authority now present and su- 
perior in strength to the United States powers on duty in the state. 
The execution of the scheme would bring on collision at once, es- 
pecially when the United States forces consisted of colored 
troops. The crimes and disorders wliich the provisional Gover- 
nor advanced as his reason for organizing his state volunteers 
had been committed or connived at by people of th.e same class the 
volunteers belonged to." Carried away by such perverted reason- 
ing, General Schurz telegraph.ed the President that "Gen. Slocum 

336 Mississippi Historical Society. 

had issued an order prohibiting organization of the mihtia. The 
organization of the miUtia would have been a false step." The 
Schurz reniiniscences are quoted upon what ensued: 

*Tt is hard to imagine my amazement when, at two o'clock on 
the morning of September 1, I was called up from my berth on 
a Mississippi steamboat carrying me from Vicksburg to New Or- 
leans, olT Baton Rouge, to receive a telegraphic dispatch from 
President Johnson, to which I cannot do justice without quoting 
it in full : 

''Washington, D. C, Aug 30, 1865. 

"To Major General Carl Schurz, Vicksburg, Mississippi. 

"I presume General Slocum will issue no order interfering 
with Governor Sliarkey in restoring functions of the- state gov- 
ernment without first consulting the government, giving the rea- 
sons for such proposed interference. It is believed there can be 
organized in each county a force of citizens or militia to suppress 
crime, preserve order, and enforce the civil authority of the 
state and of the United States which would enable the federal 
government to reduce tlie army and withdraw^ to a great extent 
the forces from the state, thereby reducing the enornious ex- 
pense of the government. If tliere was any danger from an or- 
ganization of the citizens for the purpose indicated, the military 
are there to detect and suppress on the first appearance any move 
insurrectionary in its character. One great object is to induce 
the people to come forward in the defense of the stale and federal 
government. General Washington declared that the people or the 
militia was the army t-f the constitution or the army of the Unit- 
ed States, and as soon as it is practicable the original design of the 
government must be resumed and the government administrated 
upon the principles of the great chart of freedom handed down 
to the people by the founders of the republic. The oeople must 
be trusted with their government, and, if trusted, my opinion is 
they will act in good faith and restore their fornier constitutional 
relations with all the states composing the Union. The main ob- 
ject of Major General Carl Schurz's mission to the South was 
to aid as far as practicable in carrying out the policy adopted by 
the government in restoring the states to their former relations 
with the Federal government. It is hoped such aid lias been 
given. The proclamation authorizing restoration of state gov- 
ernments requires tlie military to aid the provisional governor in 
the performance of his duties as prescribed in the proclamation, 
and in no manner to interfere or throw impediments in the way of 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 337 

consummating the object of his appointment, at least without ad- 
vising the government of the intended interference. 

"Andrew Johnson, 
President United States." 

"My first impulse/' writes General Schurz, "was to resign my 
mission at once." But he did not as will be shown in a subsequent 
chapter. The President having enclosed Governor Sharkey a 
copy of the above to his commissioner, with a permission to pub- 
lish it, the gratifying close of the military strain upon the situa- 
tion was thus communicated to the people by Governor Sharkey: 

"In these times of gloom and apprehension, it is due to the Pres- 
ident of the United States — it is due to the people — that I should 
publish a dispatch received on the 30th ult., omitting only two 
lines of a private character. The people will see that they may 
implicitly confide in the President, and that he confides in them 
for the protection of their own government. They may confi- 
dently hope that, under his wise and just policy, the day is not dis- 
tant when all the functions of civil government will be entirely 
restored under the constitution of the United States." 

The people needed all the cheer that could be had from the 
president's policy. The despondency and destruction consequent 
on the adverse end of the war, with the industrial confusion in- 
cident to emancipation, was added to by a disastrous crop season. 
A New Orleans price current of August 17th is quoted : "The 
crop is so small it will all be in market at a very early date." The 
cotton caterpillar which had appeared the previous year again' 
came and cut down the yield of the short crop. 

None of the predicted evil came out of the militia organiza- 
tions. Only a few companies were formed, as the trouble and 
turbulence remaining after the war soon yielded to civil author- 
ities, and local "vigilance" committees. There were no "collisions" 
between the militia and the negro troops such as Gen. Schurz so 
confidently predicted. In fact there is no public record of militia 
operations, though some of the few companies did good work, or 
their presence had the desired tranquilizing influence. Neverthe- 
less, the affair was made the subject of no little prejudiced com- 

338 Mississippi Historical Society. 

ment by the radical press. The Philadelphia Enquirer of August 
20th said: "It is known that Governor Sharkey, of Mississippi 
has failed to keep his promise made to President Johnson, either 
in letter or spirit, and it is not improbable that his concern may 
come to a summary close before long." 

The Chicago Tribune denounced "Sharkey^s plan," as virtually 
proposing to reorganize the rebellion army after the loyal army 
had been disarmed and disbanded and would enable them to drive 
every Northern man out of the state, make the condition of the 
freedmen intolerable and revive a "reign of terror." This was 
lunatic raving — mis judgment that was as stupid as it was cruel. 
There was no more design or chance of such a reversal to a state 
of chaos and war in Mississippi than there was in Illinois. The 
whole thought and purpose of Governor Sharkey and the people 
of the state, was to bind up the wounds of war — suppress viola- 
tions of the law, effect elimination of robber bands, and thus induce 
the inflow of Northern men and capital, to make the new race re- 
lationship tolerable and acceptable for the freedmen, on whose 
labor all expectation and hope of industrial prosperity and suc- 
cess depended. But their dependence and necessities could not 
bring their hearts or minds to accept the negro garrisons as con- 
servators of the peace nor did they lack sympathizers under the 
infliction, in the North. The New York Herald, in the following 
ironic rebuke, replied to the critics of the President, in the Mis- 
sissippi case : "We comprehended the case of the nigger soldiers 
thoroughly. Let the first batch of them be sent to New York 
and wc can dispose of them among the different islands in the 
harbor and rivers. The Loyal League will no doubt be anxious 
to present the gallant fellows with another flag, and most prob- 
ably the ladies of the Loyal League will present each of the 
fragrant heroes with a bouquet. The rest of the nigger soldiers 
should be sent North and scattered all over the towns and cities of 
New England, where they will be worshipped like gods, and the 
scheme of the regeneration of the race can be carried out by their 
marrying into the families of Phillips, Garrison and Sumner, 
and the Boston traders who signed the lecture to President John- 

y^'- . y 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily, 839 

son. This is the way to solve the difficulty of the nigger soldier 

September 4th, in accordance with a previous executive order, 
an important change in the rules and regulations of the bureau 
of refugees, freedmen and abandoned lands was promulgated. 
Under the law of 1864 abandoned property was thus defined: 
"All property, real or personal, shall be regarded as abandoned 
when the lawful owner thereof shall be voluntarily absent there- 
from, and engaged, either in arms or otherwise, in aiding or en- 
couraging the rebellion." From the bureau circular here referred 
to the following is quoted : ''Assistant commissioners will, as rap- 
idly as possible, cause accurate descriptions of all confiscated and 
abandoned lands, or other confiscated or abandoned real property, 
that is now, or may hereafter, come under their control, to be 
made; and besides keeping a record of such themselves, will for- 
ward monthly, to the commissioner of the bureau, copies of such 
descriptions, in the manner prescribed by circular No. 10, of July 
11, 1865, from the bureau. They will, with as little delay as pos- 
sible, select and set apart such confiscated and abandoned lands 
and property as may be necessary for the immediate use or refu- 
gees and freedmen — the specific division of which into lots, and 
the rental or sale thereof, according to the law establishing the 
bureau, will be completed as soon as practicable, and reported to 
the commissioner. In the selection and setting apart of such 
lands and property, care will be used to take that about which 
there is the least doubt that this bureau should have custody and 
control of. Whenever any land, or other real property, that shall 
come into the possession of this bureau as abandoned, does not 
fall under the definition of abandoned as set forth in section 2 
of the act of congress approved July 2, 1864, hereinbefore men- 
tioned, it will be formally surrendered by the assistant commis- 
sioner of the bureau of the state within which such real estate is 
situated, upon its appearing that the claimant did not abandon the 
property in the sense defined in the second section of said act." 

The next and last section, which practically closed out the 
abandoned lands provision, is quoted: 

340 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Former owners of property held by the bureau as abandoned, 
who claim its restoration on the ground of having received the 
pardon of the President, will, as far as practicable, forward their 
applications to the commissioner of the bureau through the sup- 
erintendents and assistant commissioners of the districts and 
states in which the property is situated. Each application must 
be accompanied by, first, a copy of the special pardon of the Pres- 
ident of the United States, or of the oath under his amnesty proc- 
lamation, where they are not embraced in any of the expectations 
therein enumerated; second, proof of title; third, evidence that 
the property has not been confiscated or libeled in any United 
States court, and, if libeled, that the proceedings against it have 
been discontinued. Officers of the bureau through whose hands 
such applications may pass, will endorse thereon such facts as 
may assist the commissioner in his decision, stating especially the 
use to which the property is put by the bureau. • i 

(Signed) O. O. Howard, 

Major General, Commissioner of Refugees, Freedmen and Aban- 
doned Lands. 
Approved: September 4, I8G0. 

Andrew Johnson, 
President of the United States. 

Under the last clause of the foregoing all of the "abandoned 
lands" were restored to the legal owners, within the next year, 
and including that declared confiscated. 

Gen. Slocum turned over the command September 16th to Gen. 
Osterhaus and left the state on leave of absence. He soon after- 
wards resigned and did not return. Whatever ill feeling had 
been engendered by his harsh orders of a month before had sub- 
sided. In their hard surroundings the people could not afiford, 
nor were they in any spirit, for indulgence of harbored resent- 
ment. The citizens of Vicksburg gave Gen. Slocum a banquet 
on the eve of his departure. The chief feature of the function 
was the General's toast : ''To W. L. Sharkey, the Provisional 
Governor of Mississippi — a sound statesman and true patriot. 
May he long be spared to the state he has served so well." 

As candidate on the Democratic ticket for Secretary of State, 
Gen. Slocum entered actively into the New York campaign. The 
following from a speech he made at Syracuse on the 22d of Sep- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 341 

tember is well worth incorporating into state history of the per- 
iod ; especially what he said of the Freedman's Bureau : 

''Each state is placed in charge of an assistant commissioner. It 
is made the duty of the department commander to detail such offi- 
cers and soldiers as these assistant commissioners may require in 
the discharge of their duties. All questions between whites and 
blacks are to be adjudicated by an officer or agent of the bureau. 
This of course requires that one officer or agent shall be stationed 
in each county, or at least that they shall be so distributed as to 
be accessible to all the inhabitants. 

''These gentlemen, who are to act as judges in matters of differ- 
ence between the races, are usually lieutenants selected from the 
regiments on duty in the state. Each judge, lieutenant or agent, 
as you may please to call him, has his guard, and each guard its 
customary establishment. The news of his arrival in any section 
of the country spreads with wonderful rapidity. A negro has a 
grievance against his employer or some other white person — he 
enters his complaint and the judge or lieutenant orders the white 
man or white lady to appear before him and confront his or her 
accuser. The usual forms adopted in our courts of justice, to 
ascertain the facts in the case, are discarded. In some cases the 
accused is at once released ; in others he is fined twenty, fifty or a 
hundred dollars. The judge collects the fine, and usually for- 
wards it to his superior, to be used in defraying the expenses of 
the institution. The negro goes home, stopping ax cacn planta- 
tion and detailing the particulars of the case to other freedmen. 

''Half the negroes in that section are at once seized linth a de- 
sire to see the Yankee military judge, and to seei hozv their old 
musters or mistresses z^'ould act on being brought before him. 
Complaints are made against the kindest and best people in the 
country. The immediate result is despondency and anger on the 
part of the whites — discontent and indolence on the part of the 
blacks. Here is a young man from a Northern state, not educated 
as a judicial officer, and often not possessing a single qualification 
for the discharge of such duties—upon whom devolve greater 
responsibilities than devolve upon the justices of the Supreme 

34:% Mississippi Historical Society. 

Court — for he not only acts as judge, but also as sheriff and 
clerk ; and from his decision it is seldom an appeal can be made. 

"You often read accounts in the newspapers as to the condition 
of affairs in certain localities. You are informed about the pros- 
perous condition of a few schools established for the benefit of 
negro children; of the readiness with which they learn their let- 
ters, and of the ardor with which they sing patriotic airs. Ac- 
cording to some of these accounts the negro children are far 
superior to your own ; they mutter the alphabet in their sleep and 
spend most of their waking hours in invoking blessings on the 
head of General Sexton and other distinguished public men. To 
many I presume this is pleasant reading matter, and it may serve 
to convince some people that the great problem is already solved ; 
that through the efforts of Sexton and his co-laborers four mil- 
lions of ignorant and degraded beings are to be suddenly ele- 
vated, and to become educated, refined and patriotic members of 

"You seldom hear of the numerous cases where the freedmen 
have laid claim to the lands of their former masters, and have 
quietly informed them that they held title under the United States 
government, and have persistently refused to do anything but 
eat, loiter and sleep. They fail to tell you of the cases where, 
just as the harvest was to commence, every hand has suddenly 
disappeared from the place, leaving the labors of a year to decay 
in the field. They fail to tell you of great bands of colored people 
who leave their former homes and congregate in the cities and 
villages or settle on a plantation, without permission from the 
owner, seeking only food and utterly careless of the future. On 
the very day that I left Vicksburg a poor woman came to me 
with a complaint that at least fifty negroes, not one of whom she 
had ever before seen, had settled on her farm and were eating 
the few stores she had laid aside for winter use. 

"Our sympathies are due to the white as w^ell as to the black 
race, though we have no constitutional right to control either. 
The difficulties surrounding this question can only be met and 
overcome by practical men. It is an easy matter to theorize on 
the subject : to point out the evils likely to result from tlie policy 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 343 

of the president, but it will be found far more difficult to sug- 
gest any other method not likely to result in still greater evils. 

"General Howard, who stands at the head of the Freedmen's 
Bureau, is a man of great purity of character, and will never 
sustain a system which he does not think productive of good, and 
yet, after carefully observing the operations of that Bureau, I 
am unconvinced that more good than evil will result from per- 
petuating it after the states have adopted constitutions prohibit- 
ing slavery. . . . 

"In my remarks upon the Bureau, I do not wish to reflect upon 
any one of the officers connected with it. Generally they are 
earnest and sincere men, and are doing all in their power to make 
•it successful. It is of the system I speak — I contend that it is so 
utterly foreign to the principles by which our people have been 
governed that it cannot continue. I have become fully convinced 
that the policy adopted by the President of leaving to the respec- 
tive states the entire control of their local affairs is the only safe 
policy that can be adopted." 

Of the controversy between himself and Governor Sharkey, 
over the organization of state militia companies, General Slocum 
said: "In response to an application for instructions as to the 
jurisdiction of military tribunals, I received from the War De- 
partment a communication informing me that the government 
regarded the state of Mississippi as still in a state of rebellion. 
Immediately after the receipt of these instructions the provisional 
governor proposed to organize and arm the militia of the state. 
Acting under my orders I w^ould not permit it. Subsequently, 
the President taking a view of the condition of the state, differ- 
ing somewhat from that taken by the War Department, resolved 
to withdraw the United States troops from the state, which, of 
course, removed all objection to the organization of the militia. 

"So far from feeling annoyed at the result of this matter, I 
'most heartily approved the removal of the troops from that state, 
and I most earnestly hope that within thirty days every soldier 
now on duty there will be mustered out of the service, and that 
all attempts to interfere in her local affairs will cease. Now that 
the state has adopted a constitution which does not recognize 

^I'i 'J-s lA 

344 Mississippi Historical Society. 

slavery, I would confide to her the settlement of all questions 
likely to arise as to the means of supporting and controlling the 
freedmen. I believe that the people will regard the interes4; of 
the state as closely identified with that of the freedmen, and that 
such laws will be passed as will be best calculated to promote the 
interest of all." 

Operations of the Freedman's Bureau fully proved the truth of 
General- Slocum's condemnation of the institution. But there 
was much to justify his disclaimer of reflection upon General 
Howard, and the higher officers, at least, in charge. The fol- 
lowing contemporary publication in the Vicksburg Plerald proves 
the honest intent of their administration, and sheds light also 
upon the abuses of the ''system so foreign to the principles by 
which our people have been governed:" 

"On the 25th of August lasit, Mr. C. W. Wood, through Hon. 
T. C. Tupper, applied to General Howard, commissioner of the 
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, for relief 
upon this state of case : An agent of the bureau claimed that the 
property of Mr. Wood was liable to confiscation upon the groUnd 
that he w^as worth over $20,000, and that it was his duty to seize 
and take possession of the same, and thereupon said agent took 
possession of a horse and buggy and a lot of cotton ; and stated 
that he would take possession of Mr. Wood's residence, unless 
he would pay rent for the same, monthly in advance ; which he. 
Wood, agreed to do. Thereupon Mr. Wood applied to Com- 
missioner Howard, claiming that these proceedings were "un- 
authorized and illegal," asked for the restoration of his prop- 
erty. Whereupon the following order was made in the case: 

War Department, 
Bureau R. F. and A. L. 

Washington, August 25, 1865. 
"Respectfully referred to Col. Samuel Thomas, assistant com- 
missioner, state of Mississippi. 

'There is no authority for such a proceeding as is herein re- 
ported. You cannot take personal property of any description 
for the use of the Bureau, and only such real estate as is aban- 
doned or duly confiscated and turned over to you by the United 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 345 

States district court. Several complaints of such seizures in Mis- 
sissippi have been reported. They are illegal and unauthorized. 
Circular No. 14, from this bureau, does not contemplate such 
proceedings. You will therefore cause the real and personal 
property of Mr. Wood, as herein indicated, to be restored to him 
and take similar action in like cases without delay. 
**By order of, 

"Maj. Gen. Howard." 

Upon the adjournment of the convention the campaign for the 
election of officers it provided for had opened. There was active 
competition for the various state and county offices. In a card 
responding to a call from many fellow citizens Gen. B. G. 
Humphreys, one of the m.ost popular and trusted of all the com- 
manders of I^Jississippians in the field, stated: I am yet an un- 
pardoned rebel. I have taken the amnesty oath and forwarded 
an application to the President for a special pardon and am desir- 
ous of returning to my allegiance to the United States govern- 
ment. The President may not be equally desirous of receiving 
me back and restoring me to the rights of citizenship; and until 
he makes known his pleasure on the subject it may be a source 
of embarrassment to my friends to use my name as a candidate 
for Governor. ... If my friends think otherwise and elect 
me I can only pledge my honest efforts to do my duty." The 
friends of the old war chief ''thought otherwise" and upheld him 
as their choice for Governor, willing to take chances on the par- 
don which there was no good reason for withholding. In an 
editorial the Vicksburg Herald urged an immediate pardon for 
General Humphreys — that "his influence with the young men 
lately in the Confederate army is powerful, and no man will 
exert a happier influence in rallying them to the support of the 
Union." It was commonly understood, however, that the Presi- 
dent did not think favorably of the election of a Confederate 
General to the office, and this caused many to doubt its ex- 

The especial issue, or feature, of the campaign preceding the 
election of officers ordered by the convention, was an effort to 
enlist opposition to the election of Gen. B. G. Plumphreys as an 

■c -rfT// 

846 Mississippi Historical Society. 

unpardoned rebel general. There was some discussion, and divis- 
ion of sentiment, upon the admissibility of negro testimony in the 
courts. But the people gave little thought to anything except the 
dominant question of state rehabilitation; to the restoration of 
civil authority and constitutional government in lieu of military 
government, which was made utterly repugnant by negro garri 

. The attempt to array prejudice against General Humphreys 
did not prove popular. Designed for defeating a former whig, 
an opponent of secession^ this was looked upon as carrying con- 
servatism too far, causing resentment and reaction. The support 
of his opponent, Judge Plsher, on a no war record issue, went far 
toward effacing the line that had, in the election of convention 
delegates, been drawn against Democrats and secessionists. He 
had been a judge of the state high court, and had been brought 
forward for the office of Governor by the August convention, 
informally. It was generally understood that he was favored by 
the President, to avoid the further ground of attack upon his 
Southern policy that the radicals would have in the election of a 
soldier candidate. 

The election, held October 2d, passed off without exciting inci- 
dent. The only disorder reported occurred at Holly Springs. It 
was thus stated in the Memphis Bulletin: 

"During the election at Holly Springs on the 2d, quite a scene 
was occasioned on the streets by the captain in charge of the 
Freedmen's Bureau, in a temporary state of aberration occa- 
sioned by whiskey, dravv'ing a pistol and threatening to shoot 
several citizens. He also threatened to bring his guard into town 
and kill twenty-three of the people before 3 o'clock. He also 

denounced the citizens generally as *d d rebels,' and declared 

he was not afraid of them. He also abused Governor Sharkey in 
terms not very elegant. Mayor Falconer had the belligerent 
gentleman arrested, but he was released on giving his lieutenant 
as bail." 

This narrative is now brought to the beginning of the pro- 
visional government of the state. The events of that period hav- 
ing been covered in the contribution entitled ''Organization and 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 347 

Overthrow of the Provisional Government/' the history of the 
return to mihtary rule in July, 1868, under which reconstruction 
in accordance with the act of congress, and the ensuing years of 
carpet bag and negro government, follows: 

The Democratic national convention met in New York City 
July 4th, 1868. After a score of ballots in which the vote was 
much split up there was a concentration upon ex-Governor Sey- 
mour of New York, the chairman of the convention; who in 
spite of his protests, was unanimously chosen as the party's can- 
didate fon President. He was probably the best man to put up, 
against Grant, as the leader of a forlorn hope. The platform led 
off with a recognition of the "settlement for all time to come of 
the questions of slavery and secession by the war, with the volun- 
tary action of the Southern states." Wherefore the ''immediate 
restoration of all these states to their rights in the Union and un- 
der the constitution, and of civil governments to the American 
people, with amnesty for all past political offenses and of the rec- 
ognition of the elective franchises in the states by their citizens," 
was demanded. The reconstruction acts were declared "unpatri- 
otic, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void" — the radical party 
arraigned for violation of "the solemn and unanimous pledge of 
both houses of congress to prosecute the war exclusively for the 
maintenance of the Union." 

The convention declared that President Johnson "in resisting 
the aggressions of congress is entitled to the gratitude of the 
whole American people and in behalf of the Democratic party 
he was thanked for his patriotic efforts." Logically, the conven- 
tion should have nominated President Johnson for re-election. 
But there was no thought of this among the delegates. After 
polling 65 votes on the first ballot, his support dwindled to 5. 
Mr. Johnson was literally a President w^ithout a party — hated by 
Republicans and shunned by Democrats. While the South ap- 
preciated his brave efforts, his record of implacable hate of 
secession and secessionists was an impassable chasm between 
the two. 

The adjourned meeting of Congress failed for lack of a quo- 
rum, which was the result of calculation, and precaution. The 

348 Mississippi Historical Scxriety. 

presidential election was drawing near, and to secure the vote of 
tTie conservative Republicans the managers of General Grant's 
canvass were averse to further Southern agitation at this time. 
The Mississippi Democratic Central Committee, through its chair- 
man, addressed a communication to General Gillem, asking him 
to make an order by which the state would be enabled to partici- 
pate in the election for president. This General Gillem did not 
consider himself authorized to do. Whatever of the wrong there 
was in the deprivation had much compensation. Prohibition from 
taking part in the campaign gave the state a rest from political 
turmoil that was a great boon. Perpetuation of military govern- 
ment under General Gillem was well worth the labor of defeat- 
ing the black and tan constitution. In the vacation of political 
tutelage by the Northern adventurers, the negro population easily 
and completely fell under the old influenced and returned to plan- 
tation labors. The readiness with which they accepted the defeat 
of the constitution which bestowed on them political equality was 
significant and instructive. The reversion was thus referred to 
in the Woodville Republican of November 7: 'Tt is edifying 
and gratifying to notice the complete friendliness and good will 
again existing between white and colored people throughout the 
state. There is no disorder, no disturbance, or contention. Mis- 
sissippi is enjoying freedom from scenes of violence which 
marked the progress of the late political contest in the other 
Southern states. The freedmen are industriously and cheerfully 
at work, at least those engaged on the plantations." 

The necessities from the crop failures of the two preceding 
years was a compelling force for the negroes to fall into the old- 
time habits of labor. The 1868 season proved propitious, the 
crop was cheaply grown, and with the high price of cotton much 
of the load of debt was lifted. Hope and encouragement for the 
future returned under the promise of more prosperous conditions 
and the respite from the excitement and turbulence which had so 
lately prevailed. The peace and quiet in Mississippi was in 
strong contrast with the condition of the other Southern states. 
In Arkansas, Tennessee and the Carolinas, the most revolting 
atrocities were perpetrated by the negro militia, and in all of the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 349 

reconstructed states there was demoralization incident to the 
presidential election, which interfered seriously with all industrial 
pursuits. Even the census testifies to the blessings Mississippi 
enjoyed through the deprivation of her people from their right 
of citizenship. In a cotton crop total of 2,380,000 bales the state 
produced 400,000, which was far in excess of any other state. 

The success of the national Republican ticket was followed by 
a jubilant gathering of the carpet bag clans at Jackson to memo- 
rialize congress on the lines of the Gibbs proclamation. Carried 
away by the utter Democratic rout, its tone was more insolent 
and virulent. The people of the state were assailed as being 
"defiant of the authority, and regardless of the wishes of con- 
gress. They had rejected with contempt all terms of restoration, 
and had assumed the right to dictate the terms on which they 
would condescend to be readmitted to the Union." The address 
closed with an urgent appeal to congress, and the committee was 
appointed to go to Washington and lay the memorial before the 
reconstruction committee. On the first day of the session of con- 
gress, that committee was instructed to inquire into the conditions 
of Virginia, Mississippi and Texas, and report the necessary leg- 
islation. In Virginia and Texas elections for ratification of new 
constitutions had not been held, as it was feared they could not 
be carried. Like Mississippi, they were still under military rule. 
Boutwell of Massachusetts succeeded to the chairmanship of the 
reconstruction committee, made vacant by the death of Stevens. 
In his message, President Johnson assailed the reconstruction 
acts with unabated vigor. He declared that the conditions cre- 
ated in the South through the reconstruction policy was worse 
than that left by the war. While this strong and truthful ar- 
raignment had no effect on congress, it was essential to the 
President's sense of duty and record. 

The election of General Grant, it is true, extinguished all hope 
of any conversion of Mississippi's respite into a rescue from the 
ultimate complete sway of carpet bag and negro rule. While the 
president-elect was not a malignant, and would have administered 
upon the Southern question without flagrant injustice had he been 
free to follow his inclination untrammeled, such as administra- 

850 Mississippi Historical Society. 

tion was not to be hoped for. He had accepted the presidency 
under a bond of circumstances and conditions, if not express 
pledges, which assured his adherence to the policy of Southern 
oppression. This fact was fully appreciated by the carpet bag 
contingent. Many of them were left in sore straits by the defeat 
of the constitution. Some left the state, never to return, others 
were provided with civil offices as vacancies occurred in the state. 
General Gillem's request for a suspension of the iron-clad oath so 
that he might appoint residents of the state having been refused, 
nothing was left him but appointment of carpetbaggers. 

After a vain effort to have the election investigated by General 
Gillem, the committee of five had reported to the reconstruction 
committee that it had been carried by threats and intimidation. | 

The committee had then set about the purpose of having the | 

result changed by congress. Inferentially this action was taken 
at the direction of the congressional leaders. A report founded 
on a mass of ex parte and unsubstantiated statements and deposi- 
tions from all over the state was gotten up. On such a process 
W. H. Gibbs, the com.mittee chairman, impudently proclaimed the 
ratification of the constitution. The perjured and high-handed 
document on which the seizure of the state government w^as in- 
tended closed as follows: "Now, Therefore, by virtue of the, 
authority in the said committee of five, I, as chairman, after a 
careful examination of the reports made by the commissioners 
to hold such elections, and after a patient and diligent investiga- 
tion of the affidavits and statements of many of the citizens, do 
proclaim the constitution thus submitted to have been duly rati- 
fied and adopted by a majority of the legal voters and the Repub- 
lican state ticket duly elected," etc. This audacious proclamation 
caused intense indignation and General Gillem was urged to 
arrest the author and bring him to punishment. But it was well 
understood that behind him were the reconstruction leaders at 
Washington. Their instrument, the chairman of the committee 
of five, was a typical product of the reconstruction era. He was 
an Illinois carpetbagger who had been a delegate in the conven- 
tion from Wilkinson county. He was afterwards state auditor, 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 351 

served a term subsequently as postmaster at Jackson and wound 
up his public career by a term in the United States penitentiary. 

The reconstruction committee at once opened its door for wit- 
nesses and reports from the unreconstructed states. There were 
two Republican delegations from Mississippi, the radical and the 
conservative. General Gillem was summoned to Washington and 
gave evidence in support of his report and contradictory of the 
proclamation of the committee of five. The radical delegation 
wanted congress to authorize the convention to reassemble with 
governmental powers. This was according to the committee of 
five proclamation, and the bill which had failed in the senate after 
passing the house the preceding August. A measure known as 
the Bingham bill was framed accordingly, but it was rejected by 
the committee, which, while intent as ever on extreme measures, 
was grown some more particular in methods of procedure. Gen- 
eral Gillem's testimony was a fatal obstacle to the adoption of 
the defeated constitution, without some modification. Only the 
extremists dared go so far as to attempt to override the officer 
created by the reconstruction act to execute it. Nor were they 
sure of the President, who indeed indicated a marked aversion 
to the Gibbs committee. This led to hopes destined to bear dead 
sea fruit. The committee reported a bill February 15th, which 
provided for reassembling the Eggleston convention with power 
to authorize a provisional government. It proposed the adoption 
by congress of the defeated constitution shorn of its proscriptive 
clauses. This was a concession to meet the testimony of General 
Gillem to the effect that had the constitution not contained dis- 
qualifications beyond the 14th amendment it would have been 
ratified at the polls. 

A liberal Republican plan, which was brought forth and car- 
ried to Washington, asked for the appointment of a provisional 
Governor with power to remove all of the civil officers in the 
state, and fill the vacancies with the "truly loyal." The constitu- 
tion was then to be resubmitted, shorn of its excessive proscriptive- 
ness. This was only preferable to the committee of five scheme, 
because anything was better than the enthronement of the black 
and tan convention. In addition to the two Republican delega- 

352 Mississippi Historical Society. 

tions, statements had been made before the reconstruction com- 
mittee by certain prominent conservative citizens of the state. 
They had substantiated General Gillem's statement, that the con- 
stitution would have been ratified but for the proscriptive clauses. 
To support the conservative view of state policy, a conference of 
citizens early in February secured the attendance in Washington 
of ex-Senator Brown and Judge H. F. Simrall. They were rep- 
resentatives of the elements that had favored reconstruction in 
1867, a policy which persisted in hy a small minority, after it had 
been condemned by the overwhelming sentiment of the white 
people, had caused defeat at the polls. Under the stress of tem- 
pestuous times, they were headed for any port out of the storm. 
This feeling increased, and secured many new followers under 
the gloom and uncertainty following the continuance of military 
rule, and the discouragement in the overthrow of the Democratic 
national ticket. It was under such circumstances that the sub- 
missionists now came to the front again. Their position was set 
out in a statement to the reconstruction committee by Judge Sim- 
rall, which read in part as follows : 

"At the time of the passage of the reconstruction laws they 
were distasteful to a large majority of the whites. There was, 
however, a minority (of which I was one) that advised their 
acceptance and the organization of the state under them. The 
fact to which I have alluded, and others which I will not pause 
to enumerate, interfered with a calm and dispassionate considera- 
tion of the subject, and a majority of the white electors did not 
participate in the election of delegates to the convention. It is 
now pretty generally conceded that this was a mistake. 

"The late Presidential election is a popular endorsement of the 
reconstruction policy, concluding the subject finally. It is not 
considered open to further debate. The fourteenth constitutional 
amendment, coupled with these laws, also finally settles the ques- 
tion of impartial or uniform suffrage in Mississippi. It is be- 
lieved that a large majority of the whites would prefer impartial 
suffrage, with full representation in the House of Representa- 
tives, to limited suffrage, with reduced representation. 

"Aside from the amendment and this legislation, it would be a 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. S63 

problem demanding the exercise of the wisest statesmanship to 
deal with this question of suffrage. In the Southern States, 
where the colored race is so large an element of the population, 
the time would have come when the large portion, if not all, 
would have had the ballot conferred on them. It is confidently 
believed that a majority of the whites are now prepared and 
ready to adopt a constitution, and elect officers under it, framed 
in accordance with laws of congress. The constitution of the 
late convention having been voted down, the majority of our peo- 
ple are ready to adopt the same constitution, if shorn by congress 
of all unjust and irritating discriminations, especially its disabili- 
ties, as contained in the franchise article, conforming it to the re- 
construction acts, and resubmitted to a vote of the people, and at 
the same time elect officers, therein provided for, and members 
of the lower house of congress ; or they wnll conform to any 
other mode which congress may adopt, which commits the whole 
subject afresh to the people.'* 

Judge Simrall thus reflected one view point On the other 
hand : while the resolute spirit and the organized concert of resist- 
ance to reconstruction, which sustained the 1868 campaign, had 
waned and w^eakened, the proposition of surrender to the doom 
of "impartial uniform suffrage" did not pass without opposition. 
Th€ proposition was opposed as helping the Radicals out of a 
dilemma. It was held that a persistence in passive resistance 
would gain time from which much might be hoped. There was 
a growing and manifest aversion, even in the reconstruction 
committee, to further extreme action. At worst continued re- 
sistance to congressional reconstniction could only perpetuate mil- 
itary government, which had been proved by comparison of Mis- 
sissippi's condition with that of the reconstructed states to be in- 
finitely better than acceptance of carpet bag and negro goa'ern- 
ment. Admitting that reconstruction was inevitable, it was be- 
lieved by a great many to be best to have it forced on the State 
by Congress than aided and invited by the people. This view 
was thus expressed in the Woodville Republican of February 
13th, opposing the mission of conservative citizens to Washing- 
ton. "If we will only remain true to ourselves in this crisis all 

354 Mississippi Historical Society. 

will yet be well, and we will not have suffered in vain. While a 
way may be contrived for consummating Mississippi's reconstruc- 
tion, nothing is to be gained by sacrificial offerings to it. This, 
Virginia now knows to her sorrow. It is well Mississippi sent 
on no "committee of nine." It is true certain gentlemen of the 
State have gone to the Washington mercy seat volunteering their 
services. They can accomplish nothing. We will score a point 
by forcing Congress to fix negro suffrage on us without our help 
an'd contrivance. We should strenuously object to giving assist- 
ance to unraveling the "Gordian knot." On this account we dis- 
approve this mission, and do not believe a majority of the white 
people of Mississippi favor it. It will be sad for the State after 
weathering the storm so far — after steering clear of the Scylia of 
radicalism — to be lured on its Chary bdes by this siren vagary." 
With the delusion of roseate but vague assurances from persons 
high in authority a delegation or committee of Virginians had 
gone to Washington with high hopes of accomplishing definite 
good for their State. The circumstances of their visit and return 
was thus stated by the Richmond Examiner and Enquirer: 

"The most radical Congressman will agree in conversation with 
any moderately conservative Southern man and ten minutes after 
will vote to have his ears cut off." 

While Congress was adjourned for the holidays, as a Christmas 
gift to the South, the President, on December 25th, issued a gen- 
eral amnesty proclamation. It bestowed a full and unconditional 
pardon on all persons who had directly or indirectly participated 
in the rebellion for the crime of treason. There were no excep- 
tion of persons to this full restoration of all the rights, privileges 
•and immunities under the constitution. Forthwith the attorney 
general ordered a nolle pros to be entered against the indictments 
of Jefferson Davis, John C. Breckenridge, R. E. Lee and other 
leading Confederates. When Congress reassembled the resolu- 
tion was assailed in the Senate and declared by resolution to be 
invalid. This was the last of the many collisions betw^een Con- 
gress and President Johnson. Reconstruction in jMississippi, 
which was the remaining bone of contention, was laid aside for 
the few remaining days of his administration. February 19th, an 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 555 

explanatory statement of the postponement was made by Chair- 
man Boutwell, in which he said : "It was my purpose until very 
recently to report from the reconstruction committee a bill for 
establishing provisional government in Mississippi. After full 
and "free conference with gentlemen on the other side, and hav- 
ing been by them assured very frankly that it was their purpose 
to resist the passage of the bill by such parliamentary measures as 
they can command, I feel obliged to abandon the preparation of 
it. As I have reason to expect the bill will be vetoed, it would 
be useless to pass it unless by both Houses between this and next 
Saturday. I feel constrained to abandon the measure for a time 
with the assurance to our friends on the other side that immedi- 
•ately after March 4th we will test the capacity of this side to 
pass this, or a similar measure." 

To make places for the carpet bag adventurers pending re- 
construction in Mississippi, a bill was passed in the last days of 
the session for vacating all civil offices and providing that they . 
should be filled through appointments of the military governor, 
by persons who could take the iron-clad oath, or whose disabili- 
ties had been removed by Congress. As both Generals Ord and 
Gillem' had confined their discretionary pov/er of removals to fill- 
ing vacancies as they occurred, or were created for cause, the 
local offices were still held chiefly by those elected in 1865. The 
act of removal which was passed February 17th became a law 
without the President's signature. It was provided not to go into 
effect for thirty days, in which time there would be a change of 
Presidents. On the last day of his term President Johnson issued 
an address to the people in vindication of his position on the re- 
construction policy, which time and the calamities and crimes it 
bore has fully affirmed. While he could not avert reconstruction 
and its baneful fruits, he was an insunnountable obstruction to 
the more extreme measures sought by the Radical leaders. The 
defeat of his impeachment alone saved the South from the com- 
plete Africanization sought by Stevens and Butler, Sumner and 

In the early days of his administration President Grant was at 
times, and in some of his acts, an enigma and a disappointment 

36C Mississippi Historical Society. 

to both radicals and liberals. Three days after his inauguration 
a reassignment of Major Generals acting as Southern military 
governors was ordered. All who held under Johnson were trans- 
ferred, General Gillem being ordered to join his regiment in 
Texas. While the change was looked upon as ominous, it was not 
unexpected. For a brief while it was hoped that there was no sig- 
nificance in the change for Mississippi, as the command passed to 
General Pennypacker, the next in command, who was well known 
in the state and respected as a fair and a just man. On March 
16th his succession was formally effected by an order from Gen- 
eral Gillem. But the satisfaction and relief that this afforded was 
short lived, as on the next day he was ordered to his regiment in 
North Dakota, and by an order from headquarters General Ames 
assumed command. Thus in two days the state had three diff- 
erent military commanders. The new ruler was soon known for 
what the other two were not, a prejudiced partisan of Radical- 
ism, and a political self-seeker. By his appointment he became 
both provisional and military Governor. At the time of his re- 
moval General Gillem was engaged in making the appointments 
of county officials of the most acceptable citizens, who could qual- 
ify under the removal act, a policy immediately reversed by Ames. 
Before General Gillem's departure from the state a public meet- 
ing was held in Vicksburg, presided over by a Confederate Gen- 
eral, Wirt xAidams, to express the common approval and grateful 
appreciation of his Governorship. The meeting adopted a resolu- 
tion of tribute for "an administration under circumstances of 
peculiar difficulties, and embarrassment calling for an exercise of 
rare capacity, which had been so conducted as to entitle him to 
the thanks of every lover of his country." 

At the time he was made military Governor, General Ames 
was not affiliated with the radicals. He had indeed so con- 
ducted and restrained himself as to be looked on as one in senti- 
ment with themselves by the liberal Republicans, and they had 
favored his appointment as General Gillem's successor. Certain 
prominent but over sanguine Democrats had taken the same meas- 
ure of the new ruler, and commended him as acceptable. By his 
subsequent conduct he appears to have either worn a mask, or he 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 357 

underwent a startling change of heart. From the soldier with no 
other idea than to carry out orders, he became the zealous leader 
of Mississippi Radicalism — all his official power and patronage 
were devoted to the success of that faction in the pending elec- 
tion. But, while sudden, the transformation of Ames was ex- 
plained by the ensuing events. Promotion to control the destinies 
of a state dawned upon him, or was instilled in him, as an oppor- 
tunity for self advancement. A seat in the United States Senate 
arose before him as a prize for the taking. And the proof soon 
appeared of a plain case of bargain and sale between him and the 
carpet bag-scalawag crew which controlled the negro vote. It is, 
furthermore, to be remembered in judging Ames' course at this 
juncture that he had passed under the tutelage of Ben Butler — 
whose daughter he had married — one of the most astute and un- 
scrupulous politicians of his day. The son-in-lawship and the 
awakening of political ambition give the clues to the conversion 
of General Ames to radicalism. 

President Grant further aroused Southern apprehension by an 
attempt to revoke the nolle pros orders taken under the ajnnesty 
proclamation of his predecessor. His order for their annulment 
failed, as Attorney General Hoar ruled that when pardons had 
been placed in the United States Marshal's hands the proclama- 
tion was completed. This prevented the revival of the indict- 
ments of Jefferson Davis, R. E. Lee and others. The contact 
between this order of President Grant, and the letter of General 
Grant when prosecution of General Lee w^as proposed to him in 
1865, does not shed luster on his fame. Upon the assemblage of 
Congress, the reconstruction committee resumed consideration of 
the case of Mississippi. Having 'been made Secretary of the 
Treasury, Mr. Boutwell was succeeded in the chairmanship by 
the violent and odious Benjamin F. Butler. He reported a bill to 
Congress March 19th, which was a recast of the Boutwell meas- 
ure, providing for the reassemblage of the convention, with the 
authority to remove and appoint all officials and exercise the 
powers of government, legislative and executive, until a constitu- 
tion should be prepared and submitted. But the Republicans of 
the committee were not solid, and the bill barely secured a recom- 

358 Mississippi Historical Society. 

mendation. It was in the air that the President was opposed to 
it, and when the convention delegation called to ask his support 
of the Butler bill, he plainly avowed disfavor of it. He opposed 
reassembling the Convention and suggested instead that the Mili- 
tary Governor should be given time to remove and appoint officials 
under the recent law of Congress. He would then resubmit the 
constitution after selecting certain amendments that "perhaps 
ought to be rejected," he said, "for separate submission would be 
a severe blow to the delegation, and they left the White House, as 
published in the New York Herald^ "expressing themselves in 
strong language against the President, and wished he was in a 
warmer climate than Washington." 

While the bill was being debated, March 26, the President was 
called on by the visiting Democrats and Liberal Republicans, to 
whom he reiterated his idea of the proper procedure, and they ex- 
pressed their approval of it. The Butler committee bill came to 
a vote March 31st and was displaced for a substitute embracing 
the President's plan, but suspending all further reconstruction ac- 
tion until the next session of Congress. Such postponement had 
been urged by the Mississippi Liberals, who had called on the 
President so that the labor and industries of the State might not 
be interrupted during a crop season by a canvass and election. 
But a few days later, on April 7th, to meet the wishes of the 
Virginia committee, the President sent in a special message to 
Congress recommending an election in that State at an early day. 
And in the concluding paragraph of his message, he recom- 
mended the resubmission of the Mississippi constitution. On 
the next day the reconstruction committee reported a bill accord- 
ingly. It provided "that the President may submit the constitu- 
tion of Mississippi at such time and in such manner as he may di- 
rect, either the entire constitution or separate provisions of the 
same." The bill was amended in the Senate by requiring the 
ratification of the 15th amendment by the Legislatures before 
either of the States of Virginia, Mississippi or Texas should be 
readmitted. This was strongly opposed as a violation of faith 
which had been pledged to those States on terms already fixed. 
But the bill passed both Houses as amended, and Congress ad- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 359 

journed, leaving its operation in the hands of the Executive. As 
by the reconstruction acts Congress had already inflicted upon the 
Southern States, that which the amendment proposed for all — 
negro suffrage — the fresh breach of faith made little immediate 

By proclamation of the President, the Virginia election was 
fixed for July 5th. He informed a Texas delegation that no 
date would be set for that state or Mississippi until Virginia had 
voted. Immediately upon his appointment as military Governor 
Gen. Ames gave a partisan character to his administration. It 
was soon known that he had come to agreement with the radicals 
on the basis of his election to the United States senate. In con- 
summation of the bargain he gave harshest and most unscrupul- 
ous application to the removal act. March 23d, all of the civil 
officers throughout the state who came under its disqualification 
were removed by order. No provision was made for the confu- 
sion that was created by the arbitrary suspension of all the agents 
and agencies of government. There was no thought or attempt 
to have appointments fit in with removals. Some counties were 
left in this chaotic condition for weeks. At the same time the 
removed officials were required to retain custody of books, papers 
and other property until their successors were qualified. The 
needless and heedless tyranny here displayed revealed the utter 
indifference of Ames, to the wellbeing and tlie rights of the peo- 
ple. He left them without courts or court officials, without pro- 
vision for care or custody of criminals or paupers. None had 
authority to make arrests for crimes. Parties desiring to enter 
into marriage contracts had to go beyond the state. It was to the 
credit of the people that in such an interregnum, there was gen- 
eral observance of the laws and freedom from disorder. In some 
counties Gen. Gillem had made appointments of persons qualified 
under the removal act. They, too, were removed, regardless of 
loyalty or past services in the Union army, to make way for parti- 
sans of radicalism. This was the sole requisite. The responsible 
offices were bestowed upon men who had never been in the coun- 
tries to which they were assigned. No care whatever was exer- 

360 Mississippi Historical Society. 

cised in securing persons of capacity and integrity. Only the 
form of bonds for honest performance of duty was required. 

Gen. Ames' administration as military governor was generally 
consistent with his despotic execution of the act of removal. 
Laws were annulled wherever annullment served the faction he 
had aUied himself with. He especially sought to arouse the po- 
litical zeal of the negroes by acts that pointed to race equality, 
and that expressed his animosity towards the whites. On April 
14th he issued an order annulling a state law which provided for 
artificial limbs for maimed Confederate soldiers, and that exempt- 
ed them from. poll tax. Brutal and odious as this order was it was 
but an echo of the sectional spirit dominating the North. It had a 
parallel equally revolting in sight of the national capitol, a few 
days later, v/hen the yearly decoration of the Confederate graves 
at Arlington was forbidden, and a cordon of marines was drawn 
around the spot to prevent women from strewing flowers over 
those for whom they mourned. The New York Herald and oth- 
er Northern journals deplored and censured such insensate perse- 
cution. But it drew forth no disapproval from those in authority. 
And Gen. John A. Logan, a commander of the G. A. R., issued 
an order of indorsement and approval of the action of the guard 
of niarines. These incidents tell of the bitter hostility in which 
the South was held by the government and the majority of 
Northern people at this dark and trying period. Even before he 
had fully provided the state with courts, on April 27th, Gen. 
Ames issued another order, intensifying the resentment and 
straining the endurance of the white people of the state. Going 
far beyond authority, or the contemplation of the reconstruction 
acts, he directed that negroes should be held competent for jury 
service and so listed. Provisions of law were wantonly abrogated, 
courts were deprived of jurisdiction, decisions and processes were 
nullified, according to the whim of the military ruler. Two of 
his Rankin county appointees being convicted of embezzlement, 
they were forcibly taken from the custody of the sheriff and given 
their liberty. That there might be no judicial review of his acts 
the Military Governor ordered post commanders to disregard 
writs of habeas corpus from either Federal or state court. 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 361 

One of the arbitrary acts under the Ames administration re- 

^sulted in a tragedy of far-reaching and calamitous effect. To sat- 
isfy a tax assessment against the residence property of Ei. M. 
Yerger, who claimed a valid offset, the military mayor of Jack- 
son, Col. Joseph G. Crane, ordered the sale of a piano that was 
in the house. It was proved to the military marshal, who went 
to serve the writ, that the piano had belonged to Mrs. Yerger 

. since before her marriage. Repeating the fact to Col. Crane, he 
was ordered to execute the service and sale, regardless. Mr. Yer- 
ger, who was absent from the state, was informed of the pro- 
ceeding by telegraph. He wired Crane asking him to suspend 
the execution until his return ; to which request no attention was 
paid. On his return Yerger, who was subject to fits of maniacal 
temper, met Col. Crane on the streets and in the encounter that 
ensued stabbed him to death. The affair caused extreme ex- 
citement, and in the North where it was held up as proof of 
Southern intractability, bitter resentment. The time for such a 
fire brand could not have been more fatefuUy chosen. The 

• President was then balancing between the liberal and the radical 
Republicans of the state. The all-potency of his influence in the 

. pending election was believed to be veering towards the former, 
or that he would hold it out of the scale, which was all that was 
asked by the white people of the state. Yerger was quickly 
brought before military court for trial. His leading counsel. 
Judge William Yerger, hurried to Washington with an applica- 
tion for a writ of habeas corpus before Chief Justice Qiase. This 
again brought up the greater question of the constitutionality of 
the reconstruction acts, which involved a test of the jurisdiction 
of the court martial. The result was another pollution of the 
stream of law, as in the McCardle case. To avoid a decision an 
agreement was concluded between the Attorney General and 
Judge Yerger, which was thus stated in the Associated Press dis- 
patches of July 13th, 1869 ; ''Argument in the Yerger case for 
procuring its removal from the military commission, and bringing 
it before the supreme court, was concluded yesterday. Attorney j 

General Hoar strenuously combatted the jurisdiction of the court. 
Important questions in the petition for a writ of habeas corpus 


362 Mississippi Historical Society. 

have induced the Attorney General to enter into written stipula- 
tion with petitioner's counsel to put the question in such form as 
may be considered and determined before the supreme court next 
October. The present application to the chief justice to remove 
was suspended. The President authorized the Attorney General 
to say that no sentence of a military court will be executed until 
the final determination of the court. This meets the approval of 
Chief Justice Chase." Such agreement denotes that the court held 
that it had jurisdiction over the case and had a decision been ren- 
dered the "important questions" would have been so adjudged, 
that the whole reconstruction fabric would have been annulled as 
unconstitutional. The trial in the military court was brought to a 
conclusion and no sentence was pronounced though it was known 
that the death sentence had been agreed on. The accused was 
held in confinement until civil government took the place of the 
military and was finally released as having been once in jeopardy 
of his life. 

The course of President Grant toward Mississippi reconstruc- 
tion at this juncture cannot be looked upon with pride, from the 
viewpoint of justice and principle. From the day of his inaugura- 
tion and even before he had been paid court to by all parties as 
the arbiter of events. As the time came on for him to decide his 
action, reserve and reticence gave place to tergiversation and 
double-dealing. The fact that he had ruled against the Radicals 
in ^larch had been construed hopefully. Hope, however, was 
"sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought" by his tacit approval 
of the subsequent open and unscrupulous partisanship of General 
Ames. This could not be made to consist with the assurances and 
claims of the Liberal Republicans, that the President was their 
friend. Under a perplexing situation doubt and distrust com- 
pleted the political disorganization of the white people of the 
State. The carpet-bag adventurers were correspondingly elated, 
for they felt that the situation of the year before, when the Presi- 
dent and the ^lilitary Governor were hostile to them, was re- 
versed. Despairing and apprehensive, the spirit of resistance to 
Radicalism was wasted away in delusions of compromise and 
bowing to the storm. Taking council of their fears, the Demo- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 363 

cratic leaders were lured into the toils of fusion, of propitiating 
Northern animosity, of dividing the negro vote, by supporting a 
ticket of Liberal Republicans. The illusory idea had been fast- 
ened upon by the example of Virginia, where the election held 
July 6th resulted in the success of such a ticket. The scheme was 
shaped up in Alississippi by a convention in Jackson June 23d, to 
which the Liberal Republicans invited all citizens. The proceed- 
ings made a brave show of claiming the executive backing, but 
the attendance was ominously scant. Resolutions were adopted 
favoring an early restoration of Mississippi to her place in the 
Union, "in strict accordance with the reconstruction acts." The 
President and Congress were thanked *'for rejecting the claim to 
impose the rejected constitution upon the people of the State." 
The unwavering support of the administration of President 
Grant was affirmed. The State Republican organization was de- 
nounced as "false and unworthy of the confidence and respect of 
the voters of the State." The effect of this passage upon the 
white voters w^ould have been stronger but for the constraint of 
declarations designed to propitiate Northern sentiment and win 
the negro vote. The nomination of a State ticket was deferred, 
as the election proclamation had not been issued. This convention 
.was presided over by Maj. J. L. Wofford, an ex-Confederate sol- 
dier, and a reputable citizen of Tishomingo County. 

The regular Republicans met in convention July 1. The reso- 
lutions adopted, like those of the Liberals, favored rejection of 
the proscriptive clauses of the constitution, which the President 
had signified for a separate vote. They declared for universal 
amnesty with universal suffrage, for "the removal of disqualifi- 
cations and restriction imposed on late Rebels in the same meas- 
ure as the spirit of disloyalty shall die out." Confidence was ex- 
pressed and support was pledged for "Maj. Gen. Adelbert Ames, 
military commander and Governor of Mississippi, whom we look 
to as the representative of the President and Congress." This 
sentiment was reciprocated by the Major General and Governor. 
According to the associated press report of the proceedings, 
"General Ames, commanding the Fourth District, was on the 
floor and assured the Convention of his hearty approval and un- 

364 Mississippi Historical Society. 

conditional support." This was construed as sealing a bargain 
for a seat in the United States Senate. The Convention was 
quite a large one, and thoroughly representative of the elements 
and ends of Radicalism. The spreading demoralization among 
the white people was exhibited in the presence of a number of 
them in the Convention. Their leader was General James L. 
Alcorn, a prominent and influential citizen of Cahomo County. 
July 9th, the Associated Press published that Messrs. Jeffords, 
a judge of the high court of appeals, and Wofford had called on 
the President in behalf of the conservative Republicans. They re- 
ceived "his assurances that there should be utter impartiality in 
the approaching campaign by the administration, and the military 
commander would be restrained from any show whatever of par- 
tiality. The President said that a fair contest is all that the ad- 
ministration requires provided violence be avoided. It would 
only interfere in behalf of peace and against violence." On the 
-next day the Associated Press announced that "Gen. Ames, mil- 
itary Governor of Mississippi and Gen. Reynolds, military Gover- 
nor of Texas, had been instructed against showing partiality in 
the preliminaries to the election." It is more than probable that 
this call upon the President and his pledge was the result of the 
open espousal of the Radical side by Gen. Ames in the July 1st 
convention. July 9th, the same day that Messrs. Wofford and 
Jeffords had received the President's promise of impartiality be- 
tween the factions in Mississippi, a letter was written them by 
Judge Lewis Dent, responding affirmatively to a request that his 
"name might be placed before the national Union Republican con- 
vention." This letter in connection with what the President said 
to Messrs. Jeffords and Wofford was quite a stimulus of hope. 
Judge Dent was the President's brother-in-law, as well as his con- 
findential Secretary, residing at the White House. He had been 
active in bringing the President in touch with the Mississippi op- 
ponents of Radicalism, who had visited Washington the preced- 
ing winter. That connection had given birth to the thought of 
nominating him for Governor. As lessee of a plantation in Coa- 
homa county, he was able to claim a sort of residence of the 
state. His wife besides was a native Mississippian. On all of 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 365 

these accounts, and under the prevailing circumstances, being a 
man of good character and fair ability, and previous record as a 
Democrat, the Dent idea grew in favor. 

At a cabinet meeting July 9th, the question of a proclamation 
for the Mississippi and Texas elections was discussed. The Vir- 
ginia election having been held, these two states alone remained 
to be dealt with. The case was considered in the light of the 
Virginia election, which having gone against them caused ex- 
treme disappointment and irritation among the Radicals. In 
some of the papers of that party it was insisted that Virginia re- 
construction should be held in suspense until Congress could meet 
and deal with the conservative victory. An order aiming to sub- 
vert the returns of the election was issued by the military com- 
mander, who announced that the officials elected w^ould be re- 
quired to qualify under the iron-clad oath. While this proposed 
violation of law and faith failed of consummation, the admission 
of Virginia was deferred until action could be taken by Congress. 
To gain time for the moral influences of the Virginia victory to 
subside, and for thorough preparations for its avoidance in Mis- 
sissippi and Texas, the day for them to vote was put off until 
November 30th. The President issued his election proclamation 
on the next day accordingly. On July 23rd Gen. Ames was sum- 
moned to Long Branch to see the President. It was reported 
that he would be relieved, and a few days later the Associated 
Press said that "it was intimated that Gen. Canby would be sent 
to Mississippi." On July 29th, President Grant returned to 
Washington. The next day the Associated Press said "the pres- 
sure on Grant to throw his administration influence in favor of 
the Mississippi Radicals is heavy. The extremists are in good 
spirits. Boutwell urges the President that Dent's Democratic 
support meant the redivivus of secession." 

To dispel a report that owing to the President's having es- 
poused the radical side of the Mississippi contest Judge Dent 
would decline to make the race as the liberal candidate for Gov- 
ernor, a letter was written him by Judge E. Jeffords and Col. 
George Moorman, conservative Republicans of prominence to this 
effect. "Having seen in certain dispatches of the New York press 

366 Mississippi Historical Society. 

that you would decline the candidacy for Governor of Mississippi, 
on the national Republican ticket, we desire to know whether you 
adhere to your previously expressed determination for the pur- 
pose of putting this matter fully at rest." July 30th, Judge Dent 
replied as follows: ''Gentlemen: In reply to your communication, 
I beg to say that while I can not decline what has not been for- 
mally offered me, you are at liberty to say to the national Repub- 
lican party of Mississippi that in the event of my nomination as 
Governor, I shall certainly accept it." This letter was considered 
significant from the fact that when it was written the President 
was occupying rooms at Judge Dent's residence in Washington, 
as the White House was undergoing repairs. And on the next 
day the Associated Press published an interview with President 
Grant by Col. George Moorman, a liberal Republican, and a resi- 
dent of the state. By the report he said to the President that "the 
only desire of the conservatives was neutrality on the part of the 
administration. The President replied that he wanted to know 
whether the former enemies of the government were acting in 
good faith in their present professions of loyalty. And that this 
would soon be ascertained in part by their actions in Virginia. 
If they were acting in good faith he would like to have the influ- 
ence of that state and the South generally in support of his admin- i 
istration. He asked when the conservative Republicans w^ould } 
meet in convention to nominate their candidates. Being told 
about Sept. 1st, he said he "would see what kind of ticket they 
would put in the field and that action would be influenced more 
or less by subsequent events." While this was not reassuring in 
tone, it was still thought the President would stick to his promise 
of neutrality unless "subsequent events" were resolved into vio- 
lence. On the next day he left for Long Branch and Ames re- 
turned to Mississippi the Associated Press saying he would not 
be relieved. 

Events now moved rapidly toward a head. On August 5th an 
address was published urging the people of the state to support 
the conservative Republican ticket. The address quite authori- 
tatively declared that it was "well understood that the real citi- 
zens of the state — the old inhabitants and owners of the soil — will 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. SCT 

not place any ticket before the people at the coming election. The 
policy we recommend was pursued by our wise and intelligent 
friends in Virginia in the recent election, and they obtained a 
great victory over the radical Republicans. Let us follow the 
lead of the Mother of States." It was argued that by adopting 
this policy Mississippi could certainly secure a fair election, be re- 
admitted into the Union and have her interests represented in 
congress." Unprophetic words. The address was signed by 136 
citizens comprising residents of a majority of the counties. 
There was a good deal of discontent with this action, and an abor- 
tive agitation for a Democratic convention. But the address set- 
tled the policy of the ^Veal citizens." On August 6th Tennessee 
held an election, and by a large majority overthrew radicalism. 
In further incensing the reconstruction leaders this boded no 
good for Mississippi. It was looked upon with especial disfavor 
by the President, as it w^as claimed as a vindication of Andrew 
Johnson, whom he hated, and who had taken a leading part in 
the canvass as a candidate for the United States senate. On Au- 
gust 11th, the Sphinx broke silence, and, besides, the faith of his 
previous assurances of neutrality. Without "waiting to see what 
kind of a ticket the Mississippi conservative Republicans would 
put up," he authorized the publication, through the Associated 
Press, of an interview had with Judge Tarbell, secretary of the 
Mississippi Republican executive committee, as follows : "The 
President remarked upon the small number of Republicans in the 
national Republican party in Mississippi, using the name of 
Judge Dent. He said that in his judgment this fact in itself was 
evidence that they could not be other^vise than used by the oppo- 
sition. These people cast suspicion upon their own motives by 
the fact that all their efforts seemed to be aimed at dividing the 
Republican party in Mississippi. To sincere men it could not be 
difficult to see who in the South were and had been friends of 
tRe administration. The President stated that in conversation 
with gentlemen representing the new Republican party in Missis- 
sippi he had expressed himself much more em-phatically. He 
said that he fully indorsed the administration of Gen. Ames, and 
that that officer would have to do much more serious things than 

3(58 Mississippi Historical Society. 

what had been published before he would subject himself to a 

The effect of these words was consternating. Had the situa- 
tion been contrived, a more eflFective trap could not have been 
sprung upon Mississippi Democrats. The fusion entered into 
with the "so-called Conservative Republicans" was wholly a mat- 
ter of convenience and necessity. Odious to sentiment, it had 
been. taken up solely because of the hope of success with the 
President's brother-in-law for its leader. It was calculated that 
this would at least insure the promised impartiality by the Federal 
power, which was felt to be the equivalent of success. There was 
nothing else attractive in the scheme, and when this expectation 
was shown to be delusive the hopes it raised failed. There was 
nothing to do, however, but stand to the rack. The dupes were 
too far in the trap when it was sprung to draw back. Judge 
Dent was snared as effectually as his Democratic supporters. He 
was undeceived in the following belated warning, dated August 
1st: •' . ■ ^ ^'Ml 

Long Branch, Aug. 1, 1869. 

Dear Judge — I am so thoroughly satisfied in my ov/n mind that 
the success of the so-called Conservative Republican party in 
Mississippi would result in the defeat of what I believe to be the 
best interests of the state and country that I have determined to 
say so to you (in writing of course). I know or believe that 
your intentions are good in accepting the nomination of the con- 
servative party. I would regret to see you run for office and be 
defeated by my act ; but as matters look now, I must throw the 
weight of my influence in favor of the party opposed to you. I 
earnestly hope that before the election there will be such conces- 
sions on either side in Mississippi as to unite all true supporters 
of the administration in the support of one ticket. I write this 
solely that you may not be under any wrong impression as to 
what I regard, or may hereafter regard, as my public duty. 

Personally, I wish you well, and would do all in my power 
proper to be done to secure your success, but in public matters 
personal feelings will not influence me. 

With kindest regards, yours truly, 

U. S. Grant. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 369 

Had a mere hint to this effect been given Judge Dent previous 
to his letter of July 30th, he would have abandoned, or been aban- 
doned by, the campaign against Radicalism. But the blow was 
timed so as to bind and not to loose him from it. He protested 
in a spirited but vain reply, exposing the President's change of 
mind. He reminded him that he had by his decision ''given the 
hand of fellowship to the class he had foiled in their attempt to 
force an odious and rejected constitution on the people of Missis- 
sippi, and had spurned the other class who had accepted the Re- 
publican invitation to stand on its platform and advocate its prin- 
ciples in good faith." The protest availed nothing, the President's 
surrender was as complete as it was inexplicable in its inconsis- 
tency. To those who seek explanations of President Grant's 
tortuous course at this period, it may be a help to bear in mind 
that he w^as a man habitually dependent on, and subject to, per- 
sonal influences, good or bad ; and that at this time he was losing 
the council and prop of his "guardian angel," General John A. 
Rawlins. His constant friend and war time chief of staff was a 
man of strong individuality and inflexible resolution. While Grant 
was weak in convictions of political and moral principles, Rawlins 
was rock-built. He was the victim of a fatal malady and had 
been fast failing since soon after his appointment as Secretary 
of War. As his physical condition weakened, Radicalism, to 
which he was in opposition, gained sw^ay over the President. 
This may have been merely coincidence, but the theory is not im- 
probable that had not Gen. Rawlins sunk under disease, Secre- 
tary Boutw^ell would not have dominated the Cabinet, or pre- 
vailed upon President Grant to abandon the position he took in 
the first month of his administration. The Hngering illness of 
Gen. Rawlins terminated in death September 8th. 

President Grant's Tarbell interview appeared in sinister con- 
junction with the meeting in Philadelphia on the same day of the 
Union League committee — the Republican Jacobin Clul) — "to 
make provisions for the Mississippi and Texas elections." The 
resolutions of the meeting were not published, but the echoes 
followed the next day, August 12th, in the removals of E. Jef- 
ords of the state high court; A. Warner, secretary of state ; Fred- 

370 Mississippi Historical Society. 

eric Speed, judge of the Warren criminal court, and a large num- 
ber of minor officials, supporters of the Democratic ticket , by 
Adelbert Ames, military Governor. The ax of the President was 
busy with the same timber, the resignation of Maj. Jeff Wof- 
ford, postmaster at Corinth, and G. Gordon Adams, United States 
district attorney, being called for. The letter of the latter, an ex- 
Union soldier and a man of established reputation for integrity 
and courage, to the President, read as follows : 

Washington, August 10, 1869. 
To His Excellency, U. S. Grant, President of the United States : 

Sir — I respectfully tender my resignation of the office of at- 
torney of the United States for the Southern District of Missis- 

Though the office is not of much importance, I cannot retain 
it without being identified to some extent with an administration 
whose acts, so far as they relate to my own State, I cannot ap- 

Major Wofford, an officer of the late Rebel Army, w^ho, in 
defiance of the contumely and reproach heaped upon him by the 
Southern people, supported bravely and almost alone in his dis- 
trict the reconstruction policy of Congress, has been removed 
from office. 

From the late approved published statement of your views, I 
am justified in the belief that this is done in accordance with the 
established policy of your administration. From the same sources 
I learn of vour confidence and support of General Ames, an offi- 
cer who has degraded his position as Military Commander of the 
Fourth Military District by exercising its functions solely in 
furtherance of his own personal and partisan ends unhesitatingly 
avowing, that he desired to use the high office of Senator from 
my State as a stepping stone to the appointment of Brigadier 
General in the regular army and whose whole course in that State 
has been marked by a tyrannical exercise of pow^r utterly antago- 
nistic to the spirit of the reconstruction laws. As a resident of 
Mississippi, and one of the founders of the Republican party in 
that State, though never a political aspirant, I would be false 
to my State and to Republican principles which I have always 
maintained, if I retained the office to which your kind prefer- 
ence has assigned me. 

I am very respectfully your obedient servant, 

G. Gordon Adams. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 371 

September 8th the national Republican convention met in 
Jackson, and nominated Judge Dent for Governor. The other 
places on the ticket were divided among the three elements com- 
posing the Dent following^ — the white and black Republicans and 
the Democrats. The latter were given the offices of attorney 
general and superintendent of public education. Gen. Robert 
Lowry, a heroic Confederate soldier and one of the most popular 
men in the state, was nominated for attorney general. A negro, 
Thomas Sinclair, was placed on the ticket for secretary of state. 
This nomination, which told of the humiliation and demoraliza- 
tion that had spread over the state, was a double blunder. The 
negro vote it was designed to attract was all solidified, through 
the loyal leagues, and bitterly hostile to any member of the race 
who stood with the whites. On the other hand the negro on the 
ticket was felt by the whites to be the bitter water of the desert of 
their wanderings. It made them refuse to see any difference in 
the two Republican parties, and the stay at home vote loomed up a 
great obstacle and supreme discouragement to the Dent ticket. 
The next day, September 9th, the Democratic executive commit- 
tee met and formally announced that the party would place no 
state ticket in the field. Local organization was urged in support 
of the Dent ticket, and to make nominations for legislature and 
local offices and candidates for the various congressional districts. 
Speaking announcements were made for Judge Dent, Gen. 
Lowry and other nominees on the state ticket. Joint debates were 
challenged and a fair division of time offered speakers of the op- 
posing party. But in the rank and file there was apathy and dis- 
content. This feeling took shape in the Canton convention, or 
conference, which protested against running the Democratic or- 
ganizaltion for establishing a state Republican party. 

The radical Republican convention met September 29th. It 
was largely attended. The delegates were inspired by the confi- 
dence of victory, which had grown up with the knowledcre that 
the administration support had been so openly declared on their 
side. Gen. Jas. L. Alcorn was nominated for Governor by ac- 
clamation. The ticket was. like the other, made representative 
of its various constituents ; the northern new comers, the home 

372 Mississippi Historical Society. 

whites and the negroes — the latter being given the same place, 
secretary of state, accorded by the Dent party. The platform de- 
clared for ratification of the constitution as exercised by the 
President. Gen. Ames was quoted as declaring that "it was his 
intention to carry the election against the Dent ticket if he had to 
march his troops from precinct to precinct to effect it." This dec- 
laration was formally called to the notice of the President by 
the chairman of the Dent executive committee. Ames entered 
an 'evasive and general denial. Thereupon the charge was laid 
before the President, with specifications and affidavit of those be- 
fore whom the statement was made. An investigation was asked. 
but the President took no account of the request and the incident 
was closed. 

The spectacle presented by the two tickets was a peculiar one. 
In a supreme struggle against a party composed of negro voters 
and led by Northern adventurers, the white people had for the 
head of their ticket, a Northerner who was not even a bona fide 
resident of the state. With an undying repugnance to recognition 
of the negro as a voter they were pledged to vote a negro into 
a high state office. The inconsistency of such a ticket was 
matched, by having at the head of the one wdiich had for its 
cardinal principle negro political equality, a large and a typical 
slave holder — one of the haughtiest of the class. As a prominent 
and popular leader of the old Whig party, Gen. Alcorn had fig- 
ured conspicuously in ante-bellum politics. He was a ready and 
able debater and possessed many strong qualities of leadership. 
Dominated by ambition and egotism above any fixed political 
principles, he was just the man for the hour^ — to throw off the 
thralldoms of traditions and castes, to subjugate pride of race, 
and take up with the new order which promised him position 
higher than he had won under the old. He had been a member 
of the memorable convention which carried the state out of the 
Union. Though an opponent of secession, when the ordinance 
was presented he had given in his adhesion in a dramatic speech 
announcing that "He had crossed the Rubicon and joined the le- 
gions in the march on Rome." The heroic phrase proved only 
figurative, as while possessed of high courage and eager for mil- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 373 

itary glory, opportunity, or want of talent, failed to place him 
in the van of any marching column. His war services were com- 
prised in a short and rather inglorious campaign, the first year of 
the war, at the head of a brigade of state troops. He failed in 
seeking a commission in the regular Confederate service, and 
was embittered by the denial, which he attributed to political hos- 
tility and envy. The advent of reconstruction found him a vic- 
tim of disappointment and resentment toward the broken leaders 
of the Confederate cause. In the 1865 poHcy of propitiation of 
the North, by selecting for leaders men who had stood aloof dur- 
ing the strife of war, he was chosen as one of the state's United 
States senators. From the first he favored compliance with the 
congressional terms of reconstruction. And now that the de- 
feat of the Democratic Presidential ticket had swept away all 
opposition, his opportunity was come. It was a different ''Rubi- 
con" into which he now plunged. The ''legions" he led upon 
"Rome" were like the dissolute and servile bands of Catiline 
rather than the true and tried soldiers who followed the fortunes 
of Caesar. 

The selection of the slaveholder as leader of the negroid party 
was a shrewd play against the white liners led by a Northern Re- 
publican. It was trick against trick, and as usual when honest 
men are matched against tricksters, they are easy prey. The pol- 
icy of both parties fixed the contest in the white counties. Organ- 
ization and discipline through the oath bound loyal leagues had 
fixed and solidified the big negro majorities in the black belt. 
Hence the only hope of success for the Dent ticket lay in a full 
white vote, and the persuasion of the negroes to stay away from 
the polls in the white districts as in 1868. The prospect of 
achievements on that line were not encouraging. Gen. Alcorn's 
appeal to the whites was consummately artful and insidious. On 
the stump he was at his best, as he had few equals in appealing to 
passion and prejudice — in diverting attention from real to false 
issues. His aim in this canvass was to turn thought away from 
the odious and repugnant things with which he had identified him- 
self, by exciting and vitalizing hostility toward the Democratic 
leaders, for secession, war and ruin. While assailing the con- 

374 Mississippi Historical Society. 

duct of the war he incidentally aired his personal grievances, and 
posed as a victim of Jeff Davis' animosity toward the Whigs. He 
was replied to with utmost severity. His chief antagonist on 
the stump was the Democratic nominee for attorney general, 
General Robert Lowry. He did not mince words in arraigning 
Gen. Alcorn for turning against his race and state. The press 
of the state was sweeping and bitter in its denunciations. All the 
charges that scorn and spite could suggest were rung on his pal- 
try military career. But the leader of the ''legions who were 
marching on Rome" was not to be diverted from his line of 
campaign. He had bargained high, and counted not the cost. 
The public opprobrium his speeches aroused was such that few 
men would have dared. But they served the end designed. While 
winning the confidence of radicalism, they w^ere equally effective 
in promoting dissension among the white voters on the old party 
lines. Blinded to the shackles of shame and spoliation behind Al- 
corn's election, rein was given among the white voters to di- 
vision and dissension on the old lines of party division, which he 
drew with consummate cunning. 

Judge Dent won the favor of his supporters by a canvass that 
was marked by dignity and a right appreciation of his anomalous 
position. His speeches did not lack force or manliness. Yet 
while he won the good opinion of the thoughtful, it was impos- 
sible to inspire hope or enthusiasm for his cause. His candidacy 
never emerged from the cloud of discouragement by which the 
President had overcast it. To further take the heart out of his 
canvass the radical organ, the Pilot, announced that he was in- 
eligible, and the certificate would be issued his opponent accord- 
ingly, even if Dent received a majority at the polls. As military 
governor Amies had this power, and his own chances for the 
senate supplied the incentive. As he was restricted by no scruples, 
the effect of such a scheme sprung upon an already distracted 
party may well be imagined. Under the circumstances the mil- 
itary despot and partisan could easily afford to promulgate a fair 
election order — promising to both parties a show of representa- 
tion in polling and counting the vote. But the registration books, 
polling lists, ballots and returns were all to be sent up to head- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi-^A/cA'"^//}'. 375 

quarters for tabulation and promulgation of the result. It was 
perfectly apparent that it was designated to give the certificates 
to the radical candidates. The unprincipled partisanship of the 
military commander and the national administration left no hope 
of defeating the radical ticket. The situation was reflected in the 
insolence of the negro population. Race collisions, which no ef- 
forts were made to prevent, grew to serious and dangerous extent 
in a number of places. Dry Grove, in Hinds county, was ter- 
rorized for days by a negro mob which robbed and insulted the 
whites and murdered several. In east Mississippi, near Meridian, 
a negro militia company held possession and exercised surveil- 
lance over the little town of Newton for a week. Appeals to 
Ames for relief were practically disregarded. 

In' Sunflower county the infamous rule of Ames caused a trag- 
edy which caused extreme resentment. A negro agitator named 
Combash, who had figured as a delegate in the black and tan con- 
vention, surrounded himself with a marauding band of vaga- 
bonds. Thus attended he campaigned in and demoralized the 
plantations of Sunflower and adjacent counties. He thus be- 
came an actual nuisance and menace, As in the Dry Grove in- 
stance Ames pretended to interpose to suppress Combash. But 
when the troops he sent to Sunflower returned without making 
arrests the disorders were aggravated. When the situation be- 
came unendurable a few of the leading citizens gathered to take 
action for relief from it. A notice to Combash to disband his 
gang being met with defiance, a race conflict ensued. A dozen or 
so resolute men led by Dr. Tully Gibson attacked and routed 
them and in the fray several negroes were killed. Combash fled the 
country and the disturbance ceased. The white leader at once 
reported to Gen. Ames in person, offering himself for trial. He 
was told to go back home and he would be notified if further steps 
were to be taken in the matter. After some time had elapsed Dr. 
Gibson had occasion to go from his plantation to the nearby land- 
ing on the Yazoo river. When near there he met a squad of 
soldiers. Quickly divining that they represented the ''notice" 
Ames had promised to send him, he turned his horse across the 
road and challenged their purpose. He was told by the deputy 
U. S. marshal in charge that he had a warrant for his arrest. Dr. 

376 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Gibson was a man of high spirit and resolute courage. His valor 
had been proved on many battle fields. Outraged by the resort to 
force when he had engaged to appear for trial whenever sum- 
moned, apprehensive of personal indignities which he feared 
more than death, he called to the officer that "he did not have men 
enough to take him forcibly — to go back and get a regiment." 
Perceiving that their man who was armed with a Winchester 
rifle, meant resistance to the death, the squad was turned about 
and marched back to the landing, with him following. Having 
transacted his business Dr. Gibson rode home unmolested. The 
next morning while sitting at breakfast with his wife, mother and 
sister he saw the party of soldiers entering his gate. Taking up 
a pistol he stepped out on the gallery and opened fire. Led by the 
deputy marshal, a notorious bully named Gainey, all ran, leaving 
two on the ground wounded. One instead of following his leader 
and the rest out of the gate sought shelter behind the house. 
This was not perceived by Dr. Gibson, who stepping in the house 
to get his rifle, was fired on through an open window and killed. 

The election was held as ordered in the president's proclama- 
tion, November 30th, and resulted as pre-arranged. There was a 
total vote cast of 114,283 — the head of the radical ticket polling 
76,186, and of the conservative Republican 38,097. The total vote 
was six thousand less than that of the year before, when Gov. 
Humphreys beat the carpet bag candidate for governor 8,000 
votes. All of the radical congressional nominees were elected, 
and a large majority of the legislature. As S. S. Cox says in 
Three Decades of Federal Legislation, "the result of the election 
showed that President Grant's letter to Judge Dent had the de- 
sired effect." With the adoption of the constitution the crime of 
reconstruction was completed. Only the finishing touches of con- 
gressional acceptance and radicalism remained to be done. 

A great change came over the spirit of the whites. With that 
quick recognition of the fact accomplished, and adaptation to 
their terms and conditions, which marks the political genius of 
the Anglo-Saxon race, the white people of the South accepted 
the situation, with earnest and honest intent to make the best of 
it. The task to which they set themselves was a hard one. It in 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 377 

fact called for the performance of such impossible things as 
making bricks without straw ; hardest of all, the duties of citizen- 
ship called upon them to handle pitch and avoid defilement. 
Whatever may be written to the contrary, it is the testimony of 
this writing that the white people of Mississippi fairly and faith- 
fully strove to find and develop political faculty in the negro, and 
integrity in the carpet bagger. They tried to believe and to prove 
that such elements could yield good government. There being 
no turn in the lane visible, hoping against hope was the alterna- 
tive of despair. The fate that compelled these delusions to be 
hugged was harder than war and its ruin. The spectacle of a 
people in such toils of social debasement and soul torment ex- 
cited no compunction or compassion in the Northern people, con- 
trolled as they were by leaders possessed of the twin devils of 
partisan lust and sectional hate. 

The ''Loyal League'' device of reconstruction malignancy and 
ingenuity is thus described in a paper on "reconstruction in East 
Mississippi," by W. H. Hardy — a prominent and patriotic white 
line leader of that period : 

The Loyal League was a secret, oath-bound organization, and 
lodges were organized all over the country and every male negro 
from eighteen to seventy years old, and every white man who 
would take the oath, was eligible to membership. Only a few 
white men became members, but nearly all the male negroes 
within the ages stated, were initiated into its mysteries. 

The initiation was, to the negro, very solemn and impressive. 
They usually met on Saturday night at the cabin of some promi- 
nent negro, or in some vacant outhouse. Armed sentinels were 
posted on all the approaches to the house. In the center of the 
room, which was rarely capable of holding one-fourth of the 
number assembled, was placed a table, or old goods box, on the 
center of which rested an open Bible, and a deep dish or saucer 
filled with alcohol and myrrh, which was lighted ; above this altar, 
so-called, was suspended a United States- flag, and also a sword. 
The candidate was blindfolded outside and was led in by the arm 
and required to kneel at tliis ''altar" and place his hands upon the 
open Bible. The president of the League called upon the chap- 

378 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Iain to pray. He invoked the divine blessing upon the **poor 
benighted brother who was about to pass from the night of bond- 
age in slavery into the marvelous life and light of freedom. 
Short passages from the account of Moses leading the children 
of Israel from Egj^ptian bondage were then read, when the can- 
didate was catechised, something after this fashion — (a prompter 
answered the questions, and the candidate was required to repeat 
the answers) : 
' "What is your name ?" 
' "Jim Cruise." 

"Are you a white or colored man ?" 

"A colored man." 

"Were you born free, or a slave?" 

"A slave." 

"Are you now a slave or a freedman?" 

"A freedman, thank God." 

"Who freed you?" 

"Abraham Linkum, bless God!" ■ 

"Who helped him to free you?" 

"The army and the Publican party." 

"Who fought to keep you in slavery ?" 

"The white people of the South, and the Democratic party." 

"Who then are your best friends?" 

"The Publican party and Northern soldiers." 

"Whom do you want to hold all the offices in this state and 
govern it, make and execute its laws ?" 

"The Publicans, the friends of the poor colored man." 

"Suppose the Democrats carry the elections and get back into 
power, what would become of you and all the colored people in 
the state?" 

"We would be put back into slavery. God forbid !" 

All — Amen ! and amen ! ! 

An oath was then administered to the candidate which he was 
required to repeat after the prompter : 

"I, Jim Cruise, do solemnly swear on the holy Bible, in the 
presence of God and these witnesses, that I will ever remain 
true and loyal to the Republican party ; that I will always vote 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 379 

the Republican ticket; that I will keep secret all the signs, pass 
words, and grip of the Loyal League; that I will obey all the 
laws, rules, resolutions, and commands of the League of which 
I am a member; that I will forever reverence the name and 
memory of Abraham Lincoln, the author and father of my free- 
dom, and that I will observe and keep in holy remembrance each 
anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and that I will 
teach my children to do so. That I will never knowingly vote 
for any Democrat for any office lest I be put back into bondage 
and slavery. That I will never disclose the name of any mem- 
ber of this League, or of any League of which I may become a 
member, nor tell the place of meeting of the same; that I will not 
testify against any member of this, or any Loyal League, concern- 
ing anything done by the League or its order, or the order of any 
of its officers. 

"For a violation of this oath, or any part of it, for the first 
offense, I agree to receive fifty lashes on my bare back; and one 
hundred lashes for the second offense; and for the third, to be 
secretly shot to death by any member of the League appointed 
for that purpose, so help me God !" 

The blindfold is then removed and the candidate receives the 
following lecture: 

"My Brother: You have just been brought from the darkness 
of bondage and slavery to the glorious light of freedom. You 
behold above you the flag of freedom, beneath whose folds the 
soldiers of the Union marched and fought; and the sword, the 
implement with which they struck from your hands the chains 
of slavery, and made you a free man. You behold on your left, 
a pot of sweet incense which constantly rises toward heaven. 
So let your gratitude, sweetened with humanity, and strengthened 
with courage, ever ascend to God in acknowledgment of the 
blessings of freedom." 

"He was then invested with the grip, sign of recognition, pass 
word, and sign and cry of distress." 

The boundless influence of such a ritual over the negro will 
readily be seen. Even fools who have railed out on the Southern 
men of the period for ''standing aloof," and not taking the freed- 

380 Mississippi Historical Society. 

men from the control of the carpet bagger will read the answer 
to their folly in it. Backed up by the President and the army, the 
"Loyal League" leaders were secure against all peaceable resist- 

The idea of postponing the election that it might" not interfere 
with the cotton crop had worked ill. The excitement and dis- 
turbance of the "Loyal League" organization and installations of 
members produced universal industrial demoralization through- 
,out the summer and fall months. The condition led to agitation 
and consideration of the proposition to introduce Chinese on the 
plantations to take the place of the negroes. A convention was 
held in Memphis, in June, which adopted resolutions favorable 
to the change. IMeetings were held throughout the cotton and 
sugar belts. The movement was arrested, however, by govern- 
ment action. Secretary Boutwell, of the treasury, instructed 
Collector Casey of the port of New Orleans to "use all vigilance 
to prevent this new modification of the slave trade." Ministers 
and consuls were directed to use their influence against the coolie 
trade. In a speech in Vicksburg, August 27, 1869, Gen. W. R. 
Miles described the Chinese laborer as he had seen them on a 
mission to California of investigation. He said: *T made ar- 
rangemenb to send to Qiina and to contract with as many as 
transportation could be furnished for. Some eight or ten thou- 
sand might have been obtained for the next crop. But just as 
this arrangement had been completed Mr, Secretary Boutwell's 
letter to the collector at New Orleans was published. This letter 
seemingly forbids the coming to this country of any number of 
Asiatics under contract for a term of years, and in consequence 
the party who was to go out to China suggested that he could 
not encounter the risk of the great outlay for chartering and 
provisioning ships for these laborers so long as it was probable 
or even possible the government would interfere with his deliv- 
ering them in fulfillment of the foreign contract." It was fortu- 
nate, perhaps, that this intended swap of the black devil for the 
yellow witch was thwarted. 

By proclamation December 20th the military governor called 
the legislature to meet January 11th, 1870. The interim was en- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 381 

livened by a whimsical disagreement between General Ames and 
.Governor-Elect Alcorn, over ''special order No. 277," as follows : 

"Headquarters 4th Military Division. 

'Jackson, Miss., Dec. 23, 1869. 
"The following- named persons are hereby appointed to office in 
the state of Mississippi: 

"Jas. L. Alcorn, governor ; Jas. Lynch, secretary of state, vice 
Henry Musgrove, whose resignation is hereby accepted ; Henry 
Musgrove, auditor of public accounts, vice Thos. T. Swan, whose 
resignation is here accepted; Jushua S. Morris, attorney gen- 

"By command of 

"Brevet Maj. Gen. Ames." 
"Wm. Atwood, Aide de Camp." 

This incident was enlivened by Governor Alcorn, who declined 
the appointment in a letter of gallery play phrases. "The fitness 
of things forbade his acceptance, coming as the appointment did 
from the military authorities and subject for its support to the 
military powers, while he held in immediate prospect the posi- 
tion of civil governor by that sanction most acceptable to his in- 
stincts as an American citizen, that of popular choice. I may 
perhaps be indulged in the frank confession that under the fel- 
lowship of error and chastisement by which I am bound to the 
Southern people, I am constrained by an irresistible force of my 
heart to draw back from lot or part in their government by any 
other right than their own consent." This patriotic pose was 
worse than sham — every line was a mock upon the verities. The 
"popular choice'' boast was but a stalking horse for the repro- 
bated "military support," as the two governors and the public 
knew. While the virtue assumed was too thin to impose on any, 
it appealed to Alcorn's love for theatrical effects. The preten- 
tious professions of devotion to the Southern people aroused 
radical apprehensions and Democratic hopes, which both proved 
illusive. The effect was not lost upon the governor's party lead- 
ers, who found a strong motive to elect him to the senate as a 
riddance from the governorship. 

The legislature was convened January 11th, 1870, as called by 

382 Mississippi Historical Society. 

the military governor. Its proceedings were restricted to the 
preliminaries prescribed, of ratifying the 14th and 15th amend- 
ments and electing United States senators. In character and 
composition the body reflected the triumph of reconstruction, and 
the debasement of the state. Of thirty-three senators, seven were 
I>emocrats. Five were negroes, and the remainder carpet bag- 
gers and native radicals. Of one hundred and seven representa- 
tives, twenty-five were Democrats and eighty- two Republicans. 
The black counties were represented chiefly by negroes, Warren, 
Adams, Washington and other river counties were solidly black. 
As a rule this was by agreement — the carpet baggers taking for 
their share the places of profit and pelf. After organization, a 
message was received from the military governor calling for the 
ratification of the amendments, as prescribed. This was effected 
January loth. There were eight votes against the 14th amend- 
ment and only one in opposition to the loth. On its face the fact 
of only one vote against the instrument of negro suffrage, which 
the state had resisted so long and stubbornly, seems curious. 
Trifling as the circumstance is, it was sufl&ciently consequential 
as a reflection of opinion to call for explanation, which is simple. 
In the South the struggle against radicalism had been fought 
to a finish — resistance was not only subdued, there was an earnest 
and widespread design to make the best of the negro citizenship 
as prescribed by the reconstruction leaders. This feeling was 
testified in the solid vote for the 15th amendment. At the same 
time the Northern states were intensely worked up over the rati- 
fication which would force the repugnant medicine on them which 
the reconstruction laws had already forced down the Southern 
throat. In effect the amendment only applied in the North, the 
Southern states constitutions having incorporated what it pre- 
scribed. For various reasons this was not regarded with positive 
aversion in the South. In the first place it effected uniformity — 
what was law for the South was made law for the North. When 
it proved evil there would thus be the larger chance for repeal. 
But mainly there was the motive of resentment for the pitiless 
and malevolent policy of burying a war devastated land under a 
load of outrage, wrong and humiliation from which there could 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 383 

be no lawful extrication. That feeling generated a good deal of 
satisfaction in seeing the poisoned chalice carried to the lips of 
those who forced it on the South. By overwhelming majorities 
the Northern states had rejected negro suffrage amendments to 
their own state constitutions, while fixing the same on the South 
by the bayonet. They had not calculated that while usurping 
power over the South, the Republican party would coerce the 
North. But so it resulted, for the Northern radical legislatures 
felt compelled to ratify the amendment which congress demanded, 
although the negro suffrage it imposed had been rejected by their 
constituents at. the polls. Thus it was that the Democratic minor- 
ity of the Mississippi legislature of 1870 did not feel called on to 
express disapproval of the amendment. 

The election of United States senators resulted according to 
the stipulations. Ames was rewarded with one of the seats for 
the unscrupulous use of his authority and powder as military gov- 
ernor, and the other fell to Alcorn in consideration of his political 
value as a Southern Republican. There was factious op- 
position to Ames, and the Democratic minority voted for General 
Lowry. The vote for Alcom was practically unanimous. As 
his term did not begin until March, 1871, there was a short term 
of a year to fill. After a heated contest it w^ent to a Kansas 
mulatto preacher, the Rev. H. R. Revels. The carpet baggers 
did not concede the place willingly, but there were enough ne- 
groes to make the refusal of the least of the tliree places trouble- 
some. There was thought to be policy in giving a senatorship to 
the slave race. And thus it was settled that each of the three 
constituent elements of the Radical party were recognized in the 
distribution of the Mississippi senatorships — ^the Southern rene- 
gade, the Northern adventurer, and the negro. Having concluded 
the labors allotted as preliminary to the state's readmission, the 
legislature adjourned pending action by congress. 

A bill for readmitting Mississippi to the Union was reported to 
congress by Chairman B. F. Butler of the reconstruction com- 
mittee February 3d. It was modeled after the act which the 
President had approved a week before, restoring Virginia to rep- 
resentation in congress. That act imposed other conditions than 

SS4 Mississippi Historical Society. 

those prescribed under the 14th amendment, which had sufficed 
for the states already readmitted. The members of the legisla- 
ture were required to take the iron clad oath, provisions 
adopted to make the negro's right of voting more secure and irre- 
pealable — to inhibit the state in future from changing its consti- 
tution in this respect. On page 531 of 'Three Decades of Fed- 
eral Legislation," by S. S. Cox, is to be read that ''there was a 
proposition to impose other and harder conditions, but it is prob- 
able that the presence of a man of African descent with a certifi- 
cate of election as United States senator turned the scale in favor 
of the bill" ; without the "harder conditions." In brief, the effort 
was to take the state in on probation. As illustrated by Butler, 
reconstruction was to be operated as a game of set-back euchre — 
to set back the state to military rule if she misbehaved. The pol- 
icy was thus stated by Senator Morton, in the debate which 
raged fiercely for two weeks: 'T think that the experience of 
the last eighteen months has brought congress to the point that 
we should declare that we accept of the legal consequences of 
the doctrine of reconstruction. I know the common idea was, 
without consideration, that when these states were once restored 
to representation they passed entirely from under the jurisdiction 
of congress and we were done with them. That was illogical as 
experience has now shown. We must follow the doctrine of re- 
construction to its consequences, and if necessary we must deal 
with these states after they have been readmitted." 

Three measures of readmitting Mississippi were proposed and 
debated. The Democrats urged restoration without other condi- 
tions than those required of the states already reconstructed. The 
Republicans were divided between the Virginia act, and the Mor- 
ton-Butler ''harder conditions." From the latter the more cau- 
tious, feeling that the limit of popular approval had been reached, 
shrank, fearing a further strain upon the constitutional institu- 
tion of a union of coequal states. Thus the state was admitted 
under the Virginia conditions. They were illogical and illusory, 
as the future proved. The extremists detected the fatal weakness 
of the reconstruction fabric, and that the prop provided in the 
Virginia law was a delusion and a snare. It took but a few years 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 385 

to verify their foresight. The easy overthrow of the negro car- 
pet bag governments as soon as the mihtary support was with- 
drawn, they would have guarded against, by reserving the power, 
in the case of Mississippi, of "dealing with the states after they 
were readmitted." 

Discussion of the bill to readmit Mississippi elicited a signifi- 
cant and interesting statement from Senator Trumbull, the chair- 
man of the Senate judiciary committee, upon a motion to remit 
the "harder conditions" that had not been exacted from the other 
states. He said "the committee believed congress had no power 
to impose such conditions ; that they have no binding force ; that 
their effect is evil and evil only; that it is keeping up a distinc- 
tion in regard to the states which could do no good and may do 
much hafm. I believe that when a state is entitled to representa- 
tion in this Union it becomes one of the states of the Union, and 
is a full and complete state with all in all respects." 

The act restoring Mississippi to representation was passed Fel> 
ruary 17th. Upon the request of her congressional delegation 
President Grant delayed signing the act until February 23d. It 
was provided that the legislature should meet the second Tuesday 
after the bill should be adopted. By a war department order the 
fourth military district ceased to exist February 28th. Thus the 
second state to secede, Mississippi was the last, save Texas, to 
be taken back in the Union. The circumstances and the manner 
of her restoration left little disposition for rejoicing. While the 
Morton-Butler plan failed, the relentless spirit displayed in the 
debate, and through the radical press deepened the discourage- 
ment and unrest of the Southern people over the future. The 
war was five years in the past, but distrust and apprehension of 
the test of the readjustments of peace hung like a pall over the 
country. The last act of the military government was to remand 
the famous and fateful case of E. M. Yerger, for killing Colonel 
Crane, the military mayor of Jackson, to the state authorities. 

The act restoring the state to representation being passed, the 
representatives were sworn in. In the senate objections were 
raised. It was contended that the certificate of the military gov- 
ernor did not fulfill the legal requirements. In the case of the 

386 Mississippi Historical Society. 

negro, Revels, the motion to refer to the judiciary committee sig- 
nally failed. The circumstance of a negro in the scat of Jefferson 
Davis appealed powerfully to the imagination. It was greeted in 
the North as the fulfillment of historic revenge, an event of 
retributive justice, and as driving the iron in the very soul of the 
old South. Senator Revels was in reality less a subject of humili- 
ation and loathing than the election of the military despot who 
had consummated the degradation. True, there were unsavory 
publications concerning the Kansas mulatto, which had the effect 
of making the knife of historic revenge cut both ways. To defeat 
his admission the light was turned on his previous life. It was 
published in the papers of the times that as preacher in charge of 
a St. Louis church he had led a scandalous life. During a riot in 
the church which he provoked his head was broken with a beer 
bottle. He transferred his ministerial activities to Leavenworth, 
Kansas, where he became involved with the church funds. Being 
accused of appropriating $1,160, Revels sued one of his congre- 
gation leaders for libel. The verdict went against him, and he 
again changed his location. The New York Herald Washington 
correspondent published that if Revels were a white man his 
chances for admission to the senate would have been destroyed. 
But a negro in the Jeff Davis seat was an appeal that rose above 
everything. A celebrated correspondent of the time — replying to 
those who spoke of Revels as a mere "thousand dollar Darky" — 
said *T see in him a three thousand million darky. I hear in his 
voice the thunders of Donelson, and Shiloh, and Vicksburg, and 
Gettysburg, and in his footsteps the tread of mightier armies than 
Napoleon marshaled for the conquest of Europe. The election 
of Revels is the net proceeds of war and bloodshed. He repre- 
sents the assets and liabilities of -the four years' struggle. He is 
the Union's fruits of union and victory, whereof we have heard 
so much." There was truth in this rhapsody. But it was a truth 
that mocked the sentiment to which it appealed. The "assets" 
were worthless, while the liabilities linger a heavy incumbrance 
and an insoluble problem. "The fruits of union and victory" 
proved "dead sea apples." 

A touch of bathos was given the incident by Senator Simon 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 387 

Cameron, of Pennsylvania. It recalled to his memory, or imagi- 
nation, a conversation with Jefferson Davis, when the Southern 
senators withdrew from the senate, in 1861. He said that he told 
the Mississippi senator that "when his seat was filled again it 
would be by a negro." And then the Pennsylvania Simon re- 
peated the "nunc dimittis" of that "just and devout" Simeon, who 
exclaimed upon the coming of the Savior. "Now, Lord, lettest 
thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen salva- 
tion/* Being written to concerning this revelation, a letter from 
Mr. Davis was published denying that any such conversation had 
,been had with him. He wrote that "Senator Cameron made no 
remarks to me at the time, of my withdrawal, other than the ex- 
pression of good wishes." To this the explanation was made for 
Mr. Cameron that he made the remark at a breakfast to which he 
had been invited by Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis, in his letter, dated 
March 23d, 1870, said : "Men had not then reached the degree of 
stultification which caused the withdrawal of the states to be 
called rebellion. And the only remark, so far as I know, made 
by any senator which had the least partial bearing was the ex- 
pression of Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, that "he expected 
us all soon to come back." It is due Senator Revels, the soon for- 
gotten cause of so much sentimental glow, that his brief sena- 
torial career was unmarked by offensiveness or show of bitter- 
ness toward the people of Mississippi. He was subsequently 
appointed president of the state negro college by a Democratic 
governor, and acquitted himself creditably in that position. 

The case of Ames hung fire. As great as w^as the disease and 
the disorder of the times, his title to the senatorship was repug- 
nant to all sane and decent sense of right and propriety. Every 
senator felt that he was making a record of violation and stulti- 
fication of sense of duty and senatorial dignity in voting to admit 
the holders of the following certificate : 

"I, Adelbert Ames, Brevt. Major General U. S. A., provisional 
governor of Mississippi, do hereby certify that Adelbert Ames 
was elected United States senator by the legislature of this state 
for the unexpired term whicli commenced on the 4th day of 
March, 1869, and which will end on the 4th dav of March. 1875. 

388 Mississippi Historical Society. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused 
the great seal of the state of Mississippi to be affixed this 25th 
day of January, 1870. A. Ames, 

Brevt. Major General U. S. A., 
Provisional Governor of Mississippi.'' 

Under the pretext of his non-citizenship of the state, the judi- 
ciary committee reported adversely to the right of General Ames 
to a seat in the senate. This was hailed with great gratification 
to the people of ^^liss'ssippi. But the rejoicing was premature 
and probably injudicious. It doubtless won votes for the object 
of their detestation. While his case hung fire for quite a while, 
he was finally admitted to his seat in the senate. The party lash, 
and the desire to get rid of a nauseous dose by swallowing it, 
out^veighcd the cunmiittee report. The dishonor of voting in the 
holder of such a certificate was emphasized by the publication of 
the following letter from the military governor of Texas : 

'*To the Texas Journal: As a response to unanimous applica- 
tions to permit the use of my name as a candidate for the United 
States senate I have the honor to request the publication of this 
note: I am not a candidate for any civil position whatever, and 
have never authorized the use of my name in such connection. 
The proper discharge of my duties has required of me the per- 
formance of many acts of a political character, but my conviction 
of right and sense of propriety would preclude the acceptance on 
my part of any political office at the present time, under existing 
circumstances, at the hands of the legislature of Texas. I have. 
to be sure, resided in the state with trifling exceptions for more 
than three years, but this residence has been as an officer of the 
army, charged in addition to ordinary dutic'? of my profession, 
with the reconstruction laws of congress. Nothing but the ex- 
istence of an unprecedented emergency could warrant the govern- 
ment in placing in the hands of a single individual the vast power 
entrusted by these laws to district commanders. I doubt whetlier 
a residence under such circimistances constitutes an inhabitant of 
the state in the sense in which the phrase is used in the constitu- 
tion of the United States. There are other matters pertaining to 
the question, but I forbear to lengthen this note. I fully appre- 
ciate the kindness of friends who would confer upon me this dis- 
tinguished honor, but decline to permit the use of my name in 
connection with any civil position. 

''Very respectfully, 

"J. S. Reynolds." 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 389 

Gov. Alcorn's position was anomalous and somewhat ambigu- 
ous. His relations with the white people of Mississippi were 
peculiar and uncertain at this time. He was no mere renegade. 
In accepting the lead of the piratical spoilers he had held himself 
at a high valuation. A dignity that was inlx)rn set off by an 
imperious nature kept them at a distance in public. While there 
had been bitter passages with the Democratic campaigners, he 
had been extended a certain tolerance by his old Whig comrades. 
Against judgment and evidence they had trusted his motives. 
And now had the time of the test of their trust come on. The 
result of the election had not been defeat simply, it was destruc- 
tion of the Democratic organization. The situation left Governor 
Alcorn a free hand,, save for the constraints of his own views of 
what was policy. He was to be governor for two years with the 
patronage of every country office to dispose of. His full term 
thereafter in the United States senate w^as fixed. Not unnaturally 
there arose dreams, and expectations that his power would be in- 
terpreted as an opportunity for recrossing the Rubicon — of serv- 
ing the semblance of reconstruction as a cloak for the reality of 
white rule. The thought took the shape of a scheme for raising 
the dead — of restoring the ante-bellum Whig-Democratic party 
lines. A letter setting out the plan was written the governor by 
one of his old Whig friends. His reply, which was published, 
showed that the appeal touched his vanity, which was large. But 
it destroyed all hopes of a rehearsal of a Coriolanus role. He said 
**if the Whigs came over to him they will do so in good faith as 
members of the great Republican party of the state and nation. 
. . '. I certainly have no enemies to punish. I wish it dis- 
tinctly understood, however, that I have on the other hand a 
large number of friends to reward. ... I intend never to 
abandon the man who stood by me in the day of trial. . . . li 
any further information on the points you and your friends raise 
be necessary, for their guidance and yours I shall be happy to 
give it without reserve." This was looked upon by the public 
generally as a distinct, and a not unmerited, snub. 

The legislature met Tuesday, March 8th, and Governor Alcorn 
was inaugurated on the lOth. In his address he announced that 

390 Mississippi Historical Society. 

"the muse of history closes today a chapter of passion, bloodshed, 
and social revolution, and proceeds to write down the facts of 
this inauguration as the first event of a new chapter — a chapter 
which with her pen of light she heads by halcyon words of peace 
and hope." The message fairly bristled with pretentious phrases 
and the personal pronoun *'I." He lured himself with a glittering 
array of economic generalities whose burthen was the exchange 
of political abstractions to which the Soutnern statesmen of the 
past were devoted, for the ''Northern school of statesmanship, 
the fosterage of material interests, presented to us on an occa- 
sion of profound humiliation under the apple tree of Appomat- 
tox." "The old constitutional parties of the country being dead, 
. . . the propriety of this occasion does not, therefore forbid 
my dealing with the two old parties of the South as freely as I 
might with Egyptian mummies. The Democracy of the South 
is seen to stand drawn up across the road of Southern progress." 
He pronounced the dissolution of the dying Democracy as "a con- 
' summation devoutly to be wished by all those independent think- 
ers who, though acting with it, fall not behind that capacity for 
instruction which has raised the people of Austria from the 
depths of crushing defeat. Who are the natural successors in 
this state of the men whose statesmanship has been stamped by 
the condemnation of war? What class of thinkers of the South 
represent that of the North? Is it not the class which battled 
against Southern theories?" 

Environed as the state was by gloom and menace, kicking the 
dead lion of Democracy was as besotted as it was ignoble. There 
were few of the old Wliigs so blind to the darkening realities, 
or so gangrened by a dead partisanship, as to enjoy the statement 
that the dissolution of the organization which alone fed the hope 
of raising the state from a base rule, was a consummation de- 
voutly to be wished. For the dissension it sought to spread 
among the whites, the Governor's tirade against Democracy was 
agreeable to the vultures he had led to the sack and spoil of Mis- 
sissippi. The claim of the succession for the old Whigs excited 
their derision. They had slain the heir and intended to own the 
inheritance. In the exuberance of his fancy for mock heroics, 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 391 

the Governor paid the following high flown tribute to the hour 
and the man of destiny: "A son of American liberty, whose 
heart is glowing with the blood of 1776, I may, therefore, be 
pardoned for feeling struggling the first utterance on this occa- 
sion the profound emotion with which I received from the hand 
of a conqueror the crown of civil law that I bind, this blessed 
hour, upon the queenly brow of Mississippi." The people of 
Mississippi had small share in this "profound emotion." They 
felt that they were simply swapping the devil for the witch. And 
as for the carpet bag crew, it was fitting that the pearl cast before 
them should be paste. At the very time of this boasted crowning 
of the queenly brow of Mississippi, congress was debating and 
the President was favoring a bill for the relegation of Tennessee, 
Georgia and North Carolina to military rule; for suppression of 
resistance of the whites of certain counties to outrage done under 
such a "crown of civil law," as had been bound upon the ''queenly 
brow of Mississippi." In connection with the bill before congress 
the passage in the Governor's inaugural recommending and urg- 
ing provision for "a militia in the interest of a strong govern- 
ment," aroused decided forebodings among the white citizens. 
They knew by the deeds of violence and rapine perpetrated in 
Arkansas, Tennessee and Carolina, what such a militia organi- 
zation pointed to. They also knew, now, that Grant stood ready 
to back up with Federal power any extent of rapine and outrage 
by the Southern reconstruction Governors. He seemed embit- 
tered by conscience stings, for his apostacy from conservatism. A 
certain incident in connection with the death of Gen. George A. 
Thomas reflected the extreme partisan rancor to which the Presi- 
dent had surrendered. Being next in order of succession, when 
another officer was appointed to succeed General Thomas, Gen- 
eral Hancock, v/ho had rejected radicalism with aversion, asked 
an explanation. He had been Grant's most distinguished and 
trusted corps commander in his ISGl campaign against Lee. But 
it did not save him from the following offensive reply, through 
General Sherman: 'T am requested by the President to state 
tRat there is nothing in your personal relations witli General 

392 Mississippi Historical Scxriety. 

Grant or in your official relations to his administration, that could 
justify your promotion now, or lead you to expect it hereafter." 

The new constitution provided that the terms of office of all 
county, township and precinct officers expired on the day of the 
signing of the act restoring the state to the Union, and the vacan- 
cies were to be filled on that day, or as soon thereafter as possible, 
by the Governor. Here lay a great leverage of power and influ- 
ence, and the seeds of factional strife as well. -In the dispensation 
of patronage that followed, no higher motive was looked for, or 
perceived, than to reward partisans and build up an Alcorn party. 
The first commission issued was the mayoralty of Vicksburg. 
As the constitution did not specify municipal appointments, and 
as the appointee was a carpet bagger and a stranger, it caused 
bitter criticism. A factional line between Governor Alcorn and 
the Ames, or carpet bag, element cropped out in the election of a 
state printer. In the contest the Governor's candidate was 
beaten. But the resolution declaring the result failed to receive 
the executive approval and another election was required. The 
issue threatened a party split. A levee of the negro members was 
held at the executive mansion, and addressed by the Governor. 
He appealed to them to stand by him and he would stand by them. 
There was a compromise, however. The state printing job was 
one of the most sought for prizes in the reconstruction states. 
Its possibilities of pelf were too great to risk in a party contest, 
so there was a compromise. The carpet bag investors in the 
printing plant contented themselves with the business end of the 
venture and the Governor was given the editor. Under this 
arrangement there was smooth sailing, and the state footed the 

An exciting incident of the period was the escape of E. M. 
Yerger, who had killed the military mayor, Colonel Crane, the 
year before. His execution under the sentence of a military 
court having been averted by the U. S. supreme court, the case 
had been made a pawn on the political chess board. At the 
time of his escape he was waiting upon a long deferred applica- 
tion for release under a habeas corpus application. The court 
officials, in their transitory state, were afraid to try, or to release, 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 393 

him. When the information of his escape reached the legislature, 
a resolution was introduced in the senate by the carpet bag sena- 
tor from Yazoo, A. T. Morgan, requiring the governor to offer 
a reward of $35,000 for his capture. One for $1,000 was pub- 
lished and soldiers scoured the country for the fugitive. At the 
end of a week he presented himself at the jail voluntarily, and in 
a letter to the governor safd he had no intention of evading trial. 
The application for release on bail was soon after granted by 
Chief Justice Shackelford. A resolution calling on the governor 
to remove him was introduced by the same Senator Morgan. It 
was referred to the judiciary committee, which reported adversely 
on it, for technical reasons. Judge Shackelford passed out of 
office in the meanwhile. His friends claimed he was not included 
in the court of new judges because he released Yerger, while his 
enemies said he released him because he had learned he would 
not be reappointed. The excitement over a fate fully famous 
case was intensified about this time by a like tragedy. In exe- 
cuting an arbitrary arrest the military marshal of the city. Ser- 
geant Tuck of the 16th infantrv^ who had been selected and de- 
tailed for the position on a reputation for exceptional daring, 
was shot and killed by an old and highly respected citizen of 

The governor's judicial appointments formed the question of 
chief interest in the beginning of his administration. It was not 
one which he could dispose of with a free hand, altogether. The 
senate, with its majority of aliens and negroes, had to be reckoned 
with in the selection of ''men whom society could not afford to 
ignore." 'W^ith this fact in mind it is to be recorded as truth that 
the judges and chancellors, as a whole, came up to the measure 
of expectation. With few exceptions they were old residents of 
the state. Of the three supreme court judges, tw^o were home 
men of high standing, and one, Judge H. F. Simrall, was recog- 
nized as among the leading lawyers of his day. One of the three 
was an ex-Union soldier. While his rating in the profession was 
not high, he was a man of integrity and reputable character. In 
the drawing of terms, the long one, for nine years, fortunately 
fell to Judge Simrall. Certain of the appointments of district 

394 Mississippi Historical Society. 

judges and chancellors were unfit. The river district above 
Vicksburg was especially afflicted, though this was the result of 
compelling circumstances and not the executive choice. He ap- 
pointed the holding judge, B. F. Trimble, who was a lawyer of 
superior ability. But his confirmation was defeated. C. C. 
Shackelford, an old citizen of the state, but a non-resident of the 
district, was then appointed. He at once passed under the influ- 
ence of corrupt and partisan officials. Becoming estranged from 
and despised by the bar and the citizens, he became an embittered 
despot. The district was almost as unfortunate in its chancellor. 
The governor appointed his brother-in-law, Chancellor Harmon, 
a lawyer of ability and a graduate of the state university. But 
he soon resigned and left the state. He was succeeded by E. 
Stafford, the editor of the state organ. He was without profes- 
sional standing or capacity, and his appointment burlesqued the 
governor's announcement that he would give the state a judiciary 
of men ''learned in the law above his fellows, and whom society 
could not afford to ignore." No other district was so afflicted in 
its judges, though the Natchez district circuit judge, A. Alder- 
son, was in the Shackleford-Stafford class. 

As to Governor Alcorn's selections for the county officers, they 
beggar description. It is not enough to say that not the slightest 
regard was bestowed on the popular wish, or the qualification 
of his appointees. All of the pride in choosing capable men, or 
care of appearances, w^as exhausted in the judiciary. In the rest 
there was no other thought than to reward or create personal 
followers. Not even residence was considered. Bonds of straw 
were the rule. ^len w^ere appointed to important offices in coun- 
ties where they were utter srtangers, just as Ames had done. 
Raymond, of Hinds, was made sheriff of Warren, and Lake, of 
Warren, was appointed sheriff of Hinds. Negro justices of the 
peace and supervisors were common in the black counties. Quite 
a number were made sheriflFs, clerks of the courts, treasurers and 
assessors. The sheriff's offices of Bolivar and Washington coun- 
ties were disposed of under circumstances that index the motive 
of selections. Governor Alcorn appointed a personal friend, 
General P. B. Starke, to the former county. But the carpet bag 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 395 

incumbent and applicant, one of the shrewdest and most resource- 
ful of his class, secured an adverse vote in the senate on his con- 
firmation. He subsequently stipulated with the Governor for the 
better paying county of Washington. He was informed that this 
had been promised to Doctor Stites, a negro member of the 
house, who had "stood by the Governor." Webber thought he 
could fix that. He was told by the Governor that if he could do 
this satisfactorily to Stites he could have Washington county. 
The two called at the executive office together and informed the 
Governor it was all fixed satisfactorily, and Webber's commis- 
sion was issued accordingly as sheriff of a county where he was 
a total stranger. He afterw^ards boasted that he had procured 
an office worth $20,000 a year by a cash outlay of $200. In the 
six years that he was sheriff, and deputy of a negro, he robbed 
Washington county of not less than $200,000 — probably leading 
all the rest in the amount of his gains. The people of Greenville, 
the capital of Washington county, were made to drink of the cup 
of shame and humiliation. To head off the complete Africaniza- 
tion of their government, the white men joined with the moderate 
and inoffensive radicals, black and white, in petitioning for a 
ticket made up of that element. It did not contain the name of 
a single Democrat. The mayor asked was a supporter of the 
Governor. The white signers of the petition included some of 
his oldest and most devoted friends. He gave the town a govern- 
ing board with a majority of negroes, and a negro marshal. The 
consequence was several years of misrule, of disorders and rob- 

Extreme dissatisfaction and distrust prevailed among the tax- 
payers of the levee district comprising the three counties of Boli- 
var, Washington and Issaquena. Before the war the entire ^lis- 
sissippi Delta had been incorporated for overflow protection. But 
the district formed was dissolved in war's ruin. The task of re- 
building the broken and wasted levees with slaves emancipated, 
plantations overburdened with debt, and a shifting, demoralized 
labor system, seem.ed so hopeless that all of the counties save 
those named shrank from it. They were incorporated with power 
to issue a million dollars of bonds for levee building, in 1865. 

396 Mississippi Historical Society. 

Under a board composed of the most responsible planters, with 
Gen. S. G. French, of Washington county, for president, there 
had been issued half a million of the bonds authorized, and the 
proceeds expended in levees, up to May, 18G9. The revenues of 
the district had been judiciously and economically applied. There 
was no popular complaint or dissatisfaction, and the board's ad- 
ministration had been warmly approved by General Gillem. In a 
purely partisan spirit the commissioners and other board officials 
were removed by Gen. Ames, the district placed under a board 
with a majority of unworthy and dishonest members. 

Then ensued an administration of waste and corruption which 
became so scandalous that the Washington county commissioners 
resigned. Governor Alcorn's attention was called to the situation. 
It was shown that the Ames board had in a little over a year sold 
bonds in excess of the legal limit by over $200,000. In four years 
of the French board there had been paid out a total for salaries 
and commissions of $47,861. In one year and four months their 
successors had expended on the same account $52,8,25. The gov- 
ernor promptly and properly removed the commissioners and 
appointed a board with half its members representative planters. 
A bill legalizing the excessive bond issuance was vetoed in a mes- 
sage which severely arraigned the Ames board. So far the gov- 
ernor's action was heartily approved by the taxpayers. He went 
further, however, and attacked the law of 1865 and the system of 
overflow protection it devised. The cotton tax was not only pro- 
nounced to be in conflict with the governor's views of sound pol- 
icy, but, usurping the provision of the courts, he declared it 
unconstitutional. This went far to do away with the popular 
approval of the arraignment of the board's record. While the 
validity of the cotton tax, which alone could be depended on for 
a levee fund, was not affected, the attack upon it impaired the 
district credit and depreciated the bonds. 

Governor Alcorn saved the taxpayers of the state, and espe- 
cially the black districts, from a deep laid scheme of robbery, 
under cover of a bill "to provide for a general system of railroad 
incorporation," which he vetoed June 20th. It provided for vot- 
ing and issuing bonds by municipalities and counties, to select 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 397 

groups of irresponsible paper promoters of wild cat roads. "You 
give in trust," reads the messag-e, "for two years absolutely and 
for ten years provisionally, all the hopes of railroad development 
in strips of twenty miles wide through the state, to men you hold 
subject to no duty, to no test of financial responsibility. Under 
the bill before me any party of five may sketch out a railway sys- 
tem for a large area of the state." Upon commencement of any 
five mile line, within two years from the incorporation of any 
such party of five, and any sort of completion of the line in ten 
years, "the company will have acquired without any condition 
whatever of construction, or otherwise, an absolute right to pre- 
clude the construction of any road within the scope of its network 
of branches for the whole term of its corporate existence—ninety- 
nine years." Only by the aid of the solid Democratic minority, 
and the force of the appointing prerogative, was this iniquitous 
measure beaten. 

Another equally praiseworthy veto, of a printing bill, was cred- 
ited to the Governor July 1st. The bill was twofold of design. 
One object was to starve out the Democrat local press by requir- 
ing all official publications to be made in certain named "loyal" pa- 
pers — one in each circuit court district. In anticipation of such a 
bill, which was authorized under the constitution, papers with no 
other chance or expectation of life, than forced patronage, had 
been established all over the state. In the most of these mush- 
rooms some member of the legislature was interested. The howl 
that was raised when the bill was disapproved by the Governor 
may be imagined. A strong but vain effort was made to build up 
a vote to' carry it over the veto. The incident contributed largely 
toward estranging from the Governor the leaders of his party, 
with whom he had never been in complete unison. 

On the 21st of July the legislature adjourned, having bestowed 
on the state a system of governmental extravagance beyond com- 
parison with all before it. The highest cost of the legislative 
department in any session before 1870 was that of 1855-00, which 
was $77,567. That of 1870 was $258,400. The executive depart- 
ment cost from May, 1867, to May, 1868, was $20.571 ; for 1870, 
including $50,000 secret service fund, $74,200. Public printing 

398 Mississippi Historical Society. 

from May, 1865, to May, 1868, was $18,675 ; for 1870, $52,876. 
The cost of property assessment from May, 1867, to May, 1868. 
was $28,066; for 1870 $175,000. These figures illustrate 
the increase in all the departments and offices, state, county and 
municipal. They are taken from page 371, report of the joint 
select committee to inquire into the condition of the late insurrec- 
tionary states, made to congress February, 19, 1872. After ad- 
journment the Democratic legislative majority issued an address 
to the people of the state. In this it was said, "our efforts were 
necessarily confined to preventing unjust legislation. Although 
we have no brilliant triumphs to record, we yet feel warranted in 
claiming that our influence for good has not been entirely unfelt. 
, . . By firmness and unanimity of action, and at the same 
time by conciliation, we have to some extent checked the mad 
career of the majority. Many harsh measures have been enacted. 
Many grievous burdens have been placed on the people. Many 
iniquitous schemes have been consummated. Taxation is vastly 
increased. A costly school system has been legislated into exist- 
ence, looking mainly to the white property owners for support, 
while the whites are virtually excluded from participation in its 
benefits. In this and other measures of the radical party its lead- 
ers have aimed to compel social equality between the races re- 
gardless of natural distinctions and the time honored uses of 
society based upon them. . . . Claiming to be representative 
of the people, a radical legislature has postponed an election of 
county officers ... to retain their terms of office for their 
retainers and partisans." This address closed with an appeal for 
recognition of the great responsibility resting upon their constitu- 
ents and fellow citizens "to shield the state from the fate marked 
out for her in the examples of our sister Southern states. No 
middle course is left between decided action on the one hand and 
prolonged degradation on the other." The closing passage quoted 
was meant to close up the divisions among the whites which ffad 
been caused by attraction to Alcorn, the home radical candidate, 
and repugnance to Dent, the non-resident conservative. 

The most evil act, in principle, of the session of this legis- 
lature, was the one to organize the militia of the state. Recog- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 399 

nizing the weakness of the government resting upon negro 
suffrage, and created under protection of Federal bayonets, 
i€ was designed to supply the place of that prop by a state 
military organization. This had been resorted to in other 
Southern states and with atrocious results in Arkansas, 
the Carolinas and Tennessee. Under Governors Clayton, 
Holden and Brownlow certain counties had been harried 
into serious revolt. They had been invaded by militia and the 
people subjected to brutal outrage. Many had been driven into 
exile or murdered. In South Carolina, Governor Scott had or- 
ganized a negro militia force which had threatened race war. In 
spite of these examples Governor Alcorn had, in his inaugural, 
urged "the establishment of a militia in the interests of a strong 
government." The power conferred on the commander-in-chief, 
the Governor, by the measure enacted, was a menace to all gov- 
ernment of law. All persons within military age were required 
to be listed by the county assessors and organized into companies, 
regiments, brigades and divisions. Within and independent of 
this general provision, it was enacted that companies might be 
formed by "voluntary enlistment." But such organizations might 
be disbanded by the Governor, or abolished by the legislature, and 
were subject to the orders of the regular militia brigade com- 
manders. The cloven foot of the law was in section 35, authoriz- 
ing "the commander in charge to organize and equip not to exceed 
one regiment of cavalry, to be composed of not more than twelve 
companies, and one battery of artillery, of not more than six 
pieces for each division." Coupled with an executive contingent 
fund of $50,000, the menace to the liberties and lives of the citi- 
zens in such a provision is apparent. It was a device of absolute 
despotism. There was no condition, no disorder or violence to 
furnish excuse for a law so repugnant to the principles and insti- 
tutions of a republic. 

This law, so pregnant with evils, was urged by Governor Alcorn 
in the knowledge that he would in a year turn it over to a carpet 
bag successor. While the abhorrent uses provided were not ful- 
filled, the following from an article in the administration organ — 
when personal hostility to the Governor by members of his party 

400 Mississippi Historical Society. 

threatened defeat of the militia bill — exposes the partisan calcula- 
tion in it : "The militia bill cannot be placed in abeyance, for the 
carrying of one state in the West by the opposition is all that is 
necessary to influence the passions of Democrats to a point at 
which it might become wise to back the power of the government 
by preparation for physical force." In this will be perceived an 
insidious appeal to a government of predatory aliens to make hay 
while the sun shone — to prepare for holding their ill-gotten power 
by force. The militia law was coupled with another quite as 
vicious in principle. While the state had not been wholly free 
from violence theretofore, up to the time the legislature adjourned 
the secret order known as Ku-Klux was a myth within the 
state. But the fame of its deeds in other states against 
radical oppression had spread abroad. And taking time by the 
forelock the legislature passed an act providing severe punishment 
for any one convicted of appearing in public, or prowling or 
traveling in any mask or disguise. The Ku-Klux had first ap- 
peared in middle Tennessee, as a protection from the outrages of 
Brownlow's militia. He had issued a proclamation that his 
troops would not be punished for what they should do to rebels. 
And taking advantage of this license all manner of crimes were 
perpetrated by the militia and the negroes, who were thus incited 
to robbery, murder and rape. While the order spread to the east- 
ward — in the Carolinas, Alabama and Georgia^ — it did not organ- 
ize in Mississippi, where there was no such provocation for it, 
until the latter part of 1870. 

The white men of the state were greatly discouraged and de- 
pressed by their environments, and prepared to submit to a great 
deal of humiliation and wrong from their government. But 
there was a resolute spirit under the submissions. It was de- 
termined for one thing that there should be no repetition in Mis- 
sissippi of such militia outrages as had been inflicted on other 
states, without resistance to the last degree. To meet lawfully 
the evil intended under the militia law, white companies, consti- 
tuted of ex-Confederate soldiers chiefly, were promptly formed, 
throughout the state, under the provision for ''voluntary enlist- 
ments." They chose company officers and tendered their services 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNcily, 401 

to the Governor. The move was one that was not counted on, and 
notice was served on such organizations by the adjutant general, 
who was also Governor Alcorn's private secretary, that "while a 
partisan spirit will not be permitted in the militia, the force must 
be true to the cause of law and order. The primary conditions 
of the organization impresses the Governor with the conviction 
that he must see to it that officers shall not be men so blinded by 
political passions as to render a faltering obedience to that sub- 
ject of the reverence of all good citizens — the lawful authority 
of *the powers that be.' " The circular containing this hint was 
followed up by a statement published that the Governor would 
not recognize the white volunteer organizations, which were ob- 
viously designed as protection against the force contemplated in 
the lav/. But their prompt formation carried a lesson that v/as 
not lost on the state's alien rulers. Alcorn appointed officers of a 
character that would not "falter in obedience and reverence to 
the powers that be." They were thus sketched in a state news- 
paper (Vicksburg Herald) account: 

"Divers eminent rogues are nominated as major generals. 
Others less elninent, though not less roguish, as brigadiers. Still 
less widely known patriots as majors and colonels. And on the 
heads of the riff raff generally descends a bounteous share of cap- 
tains, commissaries and corporal's warrants. All this hierarchy 
and the scum forming the rank and file are to be clad in United 
States uniforms and made to resemble as closely as possible the 
United States artillery sent into North Carolina by President 
Grant. . . . Fruitful as war is in diabolical inventions, the 
great strife between France and Prussia has developed no such 
scurvy novelty as Alcorn's 'sedentary militia.' " 

Education of the negro children was a cardinal tenet of Radical 
politicians. Their professed tlieory was that book learning alone 
was needed to qualify, and capacitate the enfranchised race for all 
the duties and responsibilities of equality in citizenship. In fact, 
with the carpet bag legislator, a lavish scheme of common schools 
was the strongest card for winning the negro vote — of building 
an impassable wall between that vote and the old white citizens. 
Thus the law passed by the legislature of 1S70 provided extrava- 

402 Mississippi Historical Scx:iety. 

gantly for the common schools. Bii'.lding school houses was one 
of the main ''pulls" for plundering the taxpayers. There was, of 
course, no requirement for separate race schools. Many, prob- 
ably most, of the county superintendents in the black counties 
were negroes from the North. Still there were no mixed schools. 
This was recognized by carpet baggers ^nd negroes as impossible. 
Out of this recognition on the one hand, and the contradiction 
that would lie in writing the words ''white" and "black" in the 
law, a modus vivendi was agreed upon and provided. It w^as 
made the duty of the county school directors of any district "to 
establish an additional school in any sub-district thereof, when- 
ever the "parents or guardians of twenty-five children of legal 
school age residing therein made written application for estab- 
lishment of the same." This device worked satisfactorily until 
the time came for the situation and all of its accessories to 
change. In the meantime there was no effort to force mixed 
attendance — the negroes had the regular schools and the whites 
the "additional." There was a disquieting report that the new 
board of university trustees would direct the admission of negro 
students. In consequence of the report a letter was addressed to 
the chancellor of the university asking what action would be 
taken, if application for such admissions v/ere made. A reply 
signed by the v/hole body of professors was published, in which 
it was announced that no negro students would be entered in the 
university, and if the board of trustees made an issue of the mat- 
ter they would resign rather than yield upon it. A copy of the 
correspondence being sent to the Governor, he gave out a long 
and curiously involved reply, concluding as follows : 

"University education for the colored people is, you are aware, 
held by one political party in the state, a question simply of time. 
On the other hand, you must know also that another political 
party in the state scouts university education for the colored 
people as an absurdity; the appearance of feeling which the in- 
quiry of Judge Hudson has brought out unnecessarily in the an- 
swer of the faculty, leads me to doubt for the first time, the pres- 
ent accomplishment of my profound wish to raise our university 
education out of the injurious influences of party politics. While 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 403 

I stand firm in my anxiety to maintain the university of Oxford, 
a subject of honorable tradition of my own race, my conscience 
would forbid, even though my ability could compass, its main- 
tenance as such, if its administrators should be found from time 
to time, outside the sphere of their high and honorable duties, 
holding language inspired by the passions of race or party. The 
affections of many of the brightest intellects that adorn IMissis- 
sippi cluster around your' institution ; but I must caution you 
those affections will be stung with grief as surely as tomorrow's 
sun will rise, if the trustees and faculty fail in the duty of purg- 
ing its halls of the old vice that has haunted them so long — politi- 
cal faction.. 

I have the honor to be, with assurances of the highest regard, 
Your very obedient servant, 

J. L. Alcorn. 

P. S.' — The governing party of this state is committed directly 
and by inference to the maintenance of the university of Ox- 
ford ; it is so committed in its acceptance of my messages ; it is 
so committed in its policy on public education; it is so committed 
in the men by its own act and concurrence to administer the 
affairs of the university as trustees. If any doubt can remain 
after all of this as to the intention of retaining the university for 
the whites, then tell the doubters to aw^ait legislative action in 
the matter of establishing a similar school for the use of the peo- 
ple of color. 
Dr. J. N. Waddell, Chancellor Oxford University. 

The courage to practice what they preached was not wholly 
wanting from the carpet bag law makers of the state. It was dis- 
played signally by one of the leaders. Senator A. T. Morgan, of 
Yazoo, who at the close of his legislative labors caused a signal 
sensation by marrying a colored woman. The ceremony was per- 
formed by one of the numerous negro preachers of the legisla- 
ture. In a notice of the aff'air, published in a Jackson paper, it 
was stated that after visiting his parents, Senator Morgan and 
bride would join his friend. Senator Ames, and bride, in a North- 
ern tour. The incident w'as a subject of national note. There 
was a song much in vogue at the time, which was known as "Shoo 
Ry." A paper published in the home of Morgan's parents closed 

404 Mississippi Historical Society. 

an abusive and derisive notice of his wedding by the following im- 
provisation of a fainotis ditty: 

There's nigger in the air, 

I see him on the wing, 
There's nigger everywhere 

I hear the angels sing. 

O sober nig and tight, 
O nigger high and low, 
, O nig, nig left, and nig, nig right 

|. And nig wherever we go. 

K: i ^ i Shoo Fly! 

Another ripple was caused on the surface of events in the first 
session of the Hinds circuit court. The grand jury having before 
it the appearance bonds of E. M. Yerger, the slayer of military 
mayor, Colonel Crane, and of George E. Sizer, who had killed 
military marshal, Sergeant Tuck, was in doubt about indicting 
the former, as he had already been tried by the military court. 
Under a peremptory order from Circuit Judge Brown an indict- 
ment was found for manslaughter. While an order to a grand 
jury was a shock to all who preserved respect for the institutions 
of law, it was consistent with a deeply diseased period. 

In his melodramatic and bombastic inaugural address Governor 
Alcorn had said: ''From me individually the colored people of 
Mississippi have every reason to look with a profound anxiety 
for the realization of their new rights. In the face of memories 
that might have separated them from me as the wronged from 
the wronger, they offered me the guardianship of their new and 
precious hopes, in a trustfulness whose very mention stirs my 
nerves with emotion. In response to that touching reliance, the 
most profound anxiety with which I enter my office as Governor 
of the state, is that of making the colored man the equal before 
the law of any other man — the equal not in dead letter, but in 
living fact.'* In the redemption of this pledge to make negro 
equality a "living fact," and to build himself a leadership upon 
the shifting sands of a negro following, Governor Alcorn had 
outraged the rights as well as the sentiments of his own people. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 405 

in the appointment of a horde of venal and ignorant negroes to 

While less avaricious than their carpet bag allies, the negroes 
were more shameless and offensive. It was not long before the 
Governor was confronted by the evil fruits of a wretched policy, 
in reports of their abuses of authority and peculations. Lawless 
acts and offensive displays of authority by negro police officers, 
were only prevented from spreading to race conflict by the 
mingled forbearance and resolute temper of the severely tried 
white people. Two of his "living facts" gave a particularly 
satirical color to the Governor's emotional rhetoric. These were 
Jno. D. Werles, state librarian, and W. H. Furniss, circuit clerk 
of Warren county, negroes. Shortly after the legislature ad- 
journed they were detected in carrying on a thriving trade in 
library books. In their generosity one set of Mississippi reports 
was presented to Professor Langston of the Howard negro col- 
lege at Washington, the alma mater of the firm. A lot of books 
were recovered from the trunk of Senator Morgan, the miscege- 
nationist. As librarian, Werles was ex-officio custodian of the 
capitol, and sold off the metal fixtures about the building, includ- 
ing the two bronze eagles on the entrance gates. The pair of 
rascals were removed from office, but there was no further pun- 
ishment, as at this time official stealing was rife all over the state. 
Werles simply transferred the scene of his activities to the Wash- 
ington county court house. He was a most gifted court clerk, 
and thief, and in the ensuing years proved himself invaluable to 
the carpet baggers in their plunder of the county. Another sensa- 
tion was' caused by the exposure, by the attorney general, of an 
attempt on the part of the state superintendent of education to 
engineer a gigantic school book robbery. But the scheme was 
simply changed from a wholesale to a retail swindle, through the 
county superintendents. 

The congressional elections of 1870 were looked to with more 
of hope than expectation of relief. The disappointments attend- 
ing the results in 18GG and 18G8 had taught the South that the 
Northern majorities were thoroughly committed to the radical 
policy of humiliation and punishment. While there was no doubt 

406 Mississippi Historical Society. 

that when made aware of the base workings of that poHcy there 
would be a revolt at the polls, the lesson had not yet been learned. 
There was no sign of reaction in the proceedings of the congres- 
sional session, which had been expressed in virtualiy compulsory 
adoption of the 15th amendment, and the extremely harsh and 
proscriptive act for its enforcement. This was shaped and fin- 
ished after extensive debate and approved May 31st. The law 
made it a misdemeanor and punishable by excessive fine and im- 
prisonment to "prevent, hinder, control or intimidate or to at- 
tempt to hinder, etc., by means of bribery, threats, or threats of 
depriving of employment, occupation or ejectment from houses, 
lands, or other property, or threats in renewing labor contracts or 
leases ; any one from exercising or in exercising the right of suf- 
frage, to whom the right was secured or guaranteed by the 15th 
amendment. The intent of this act, as declared by historian Jas. 
G. Blaine, was ''to protect the right of every man to vote, and was 
enacted with especial care to avert the dangers already develop- 
ing against free suffrage; to prevent the dangers more ominously 
though more remotely menacing it." The endeavor to build a 
citizenship of popular government upon such despotic contriv- 
ances for keeping the white race in order, could only have been 
conceived in the madness and the blindness of sectional partisan- 
ship and spite. The very assumption of the necessity for such 
safeguards of the right of suffrage was a confession of impoten- 
cy. It was as void of wisdom and foresigln as damming the 
stream without provision for the flood and its fury which the ob- 
struction but intensified. But it none the less proclaimed the 
continued ascendancy of the passions of war. which five years 
had not seemed to abate. During this whole congress other 
measures for disciplining and dragooning the Southern states 
were debated — measures which President Grant's readiness to 
furnish troops to their governors rendered unnecessary. The 
Georgia case v/as an especial provocation of sectional wrath. The 
action of the legislature of that state, in the expulsion of the ne- 
gro members and the rejection of the 15th amendment by the 
white majority, had exposed the rottenness of the reconstruction 
fabric. An act had been promptly passed prohibiting the exclu- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 407 

sion of members of tb.e legislature on account of color. Georgia 
was thrust back into the outer darkness until the legislature had 
been re-assembled and revoked the expulsion of the negroes and 
the rejection of the amendment. 

In the election of 1870 Mississippi had no part. A? the legis- 
lature had refused to provide for selections of local officials by 
popular choice, the voters had no opportunity of "turning the 
(appointee) rascals out." By a convenience of construction, and 
a mere certificate from Gen. Ames, it was held that congressmen 
elected the. year previous had been chosen for the ensuing full 
term as well as the piece of one. Partisanship was at fever heat 
in the North in the election. President Grant showed an alarming 
readiness to use troops about the polls. In New York advantage 
w^as taken of certain signs of turbulence, and five thousand troops 
were ordered to the city. This menace was met by an order of 
the Democratic Governor for ten thousand state troops to concen- 
trate there. The President also ordered troops to Philadelphia 
and Wilmington. Delaware. As far as their numbers would permit, 
the Southern garrisons w^ere distributed at the larger negro voting 
precincts. The President's action was severely assailed in the 
ensuing messages of the Governors of both New York and Penn- 
sylvania. In Louisiana there were a number of riots, and some 
bloodshed. Two signal results of the election was the complete 
redemption of /\labama from radicalism, and the failure of the 
Republicans for the first time since 1861 to secure a two-thirds 
house majority. But this failure which would have changed the 
whole course of legislation in the previous administration was of 
no consequence under one in full sympathy w'ith the radical ma- 
jority. This proved as implacable as ever when congress as- 
sembled. An -'ll-timed resolution in the -enate for restoration of 
Arlington to Mrs. R. E. Lee caused the leaders to vie with each 
other in firing the Northern heart by denunciations of Southern 
traitors. Senator Sumner said he was present vrhen Secretary of 
War Stanton issued the order for a soldiers' cemetery at Arling- 
ton ; "for the purpose, as Stanton said, of forever prohibifng its 
restoration to the Lee family." There was no reconmicndation of 
a general amnesty in the President's message, wliich had been 

408 Mississippi Historical Society. 

revoked when proclaimed by Andrew Johnson two years before. 
It was published that the President had intended including such a 
measure in the message, but had forgotten to do so while writing 
it. He remembered, however, to assail "the states lately in re- 
bellion" for denying ''in exceptional cases," a free exercise of 
the elective franchise, and "thereby reversing the verdict of the 
people." In the first half of the session a number of proclama- 
tions were issued denouncing lawlessness in the South — disorders 
produced by corrupt and tyrannical rule. The President exhibited 
his hostility toward the South by a message of exceeding in- 
justice to her people. This was a list of "outrages" committed, 
made up from reports on file in the war department. While cov- 
ering the whole period from the close of the war, omission of 
dates left an impression of recent occurrence and Southern sav- 
agery extremely prejudicial to a sorely beset section. The pur- 
pose of such a message was revealed in another enforcement act, 
creating Federal, and partisan, election control through supervi- 
sion of the polls. This was aimed as much at Northern Demo- 
cratic cities, as at the Southern states. 

The state legislature met on the first Tuesday of January, 1871. 
There was quite an addition to the Democratic minority, as there 
had been an election. D'ecember 20th, to fill near twenty vacancies 
caused by appointments of members to judgeships, etc. All 
white counties and districts returned Democrats, Lowndes, a black 
county, also elected a Democratic representative. The legislature 
and the public were treated to a characteristic message from Gov. 
Alcorn. He welcomed the law makers "to do what remains to be 
done of the work of reconstruction. * * * Evil auguries had 
anticipated your last assemblage. They are hushed now into a 
silence more ready to do you justice. And the humbling of past 
injustice is but due to our fair deserts. Many of your enactments 
did not, it is true, meet my own convictions of policy and right, 
where I felt my deference for the opinion of your honorable 
bodies confronted by my allegiance to a vital principle. I owe you 
the tribute of the confession that you were ever ready to pay gra- 
cious courtesy to my conscientious dissent. But taking as a 
whole the product of our official concurrences as embodied in the 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 409 

laws of 1870, I owe you the duty of declaring that, when it is 
remembered that you came together at the bidding of a revolu- 
tion; that several had but just been inducted into freedom when 
you were called on to legislate; that very many of you, though 
free from birth had had no experience in the affairs of govern- 
ment ; and that but comparatively few of you had ever sat in a de- 
liberative assembly, you showed in the work of last session a mod- 
eration and wisdom highly creditable." * * * Precedent 
would teach me to devote myself here to discussion of principles 
of government. The speculative statesmanship of the South hav- 
ing had its day and result, I feel it my duty to direct your consid- 
eration to, solely, the urgent questions our own direct interests 
* * * of gathering up and rebuilding whatever those ob- 
stacles may have left us." To illustrate what was left to build 
upon, the governor had prepared at very great labor and incorpor- 
ated in his message a mass of statistics showing the decline in 
values from ISGO to ISTO — taking a group of counties for his 
theme. "The picture," he said, "is one that no man of right feel- 
ing could contemplate without a sense of the melancholy." But 
the material decay was more than offset, the message argued by 
"encouragement to men who doubted the practicability of edu- 
cating the great body of our labor to the moral level of freedom." 
To sustain this view the issuance of marriage licenses to negroes 
was cited ; the number of negro churches ; of negro preachers 
and of teachers of schools; of shops and stores kept by negroes. 
Here was found "a direct rebuke to the despondent." Industrial 
statistics occasioned in the governor "a pleasure hardly less than 
surprise." He found "the most surprising evidence of negro 
thrift. * * * The industry and thrift of the negro is devel- 
oping with extraordinary rapidity the production of a mass of 
property owners who constitute an unimpeachable guarantee that 
reconstruction goes forward to the consolidation of a society in 
which the reward of labor goes hand in hand with the safety of 

The "speculative statesmanship" which Gov. Alcorn derided in 
1870 has been finely avenged upon the architects and forecasters 
of reconstruction. A withered fruitage confounds the coloring of 

410 Mississippi Historical Society. 

hope and cheer he so fatuously indulged. Viewed in the larger 
historic perspective, in the measurement of the eternal verities, 
war's ravages, the wreck and ruin involved in the destruction of 
the old order, made a less ''melancholy picture" than that which 
destiny wreaked upon the new. This very remarkable message 
ran into a treatise upon the beauties of economics of govern- 
ment which the administration was achieving. The Governor 
unctuously, though flimsily. figured out a comparison between ex- 
penditures of 1861 and 18T0. Some hundreds of thousands of 
excess in the latter year was set down to "the necessities of the 
time and the result of the political facts." He complacently re- 
marked that it was cheaper to tear down a government than to 
build up one. Tn spite of his partisan zeal and c\iitnin^, "^^e Was 
difficulty in explaining the increase in the cost of public printing 
from $8,000 in 1861, to $5,2,000 in 1870. The legislative clerical 
force which cost $5,861 in 18G5 ran up to $28,201 in 1870. In 
the conclusion of his labored and lengthy argument, the governor 
said he was "happy to report that the providence of the adminis- 
tration of 18/0 compares, as a w^hole, to some advantage with that 
of 1861. The governor's "speculative" figuring could not disguise 
from the taxpayers the fact that they were being ruthlessly rob- 
bed — all over the state, in every county, city and town, Alcorn's 
appointees were feathering their nests. The laudatory claims of 
the message were contradicted by the fruits of the first year of 
test of reconstruction completed. During military rule, until the 
wholesale removals and appointments under Ames, in 1869, lo- 
cal taxation and expenditures were administered honestly. Rob- 
bery was in full blast, in 1870. The Natcliez Democrat stated 
that Adams county taxes had been increased to $28.75 per thous- 
and, and in Natchez joined to the city tax the rate was $4:1.25. 
Warren county affairs were administered at a cost of $31,043 in 
1867; in 1870 it was $136,000. The Holmes county tax collection 
which was $26,000 in 1S60, was $88,000 in 1870. In Issaquena 
county the tax rate, exclusive of that for levees, was S15 on the 
thousand. Among the items of allowance by the board of super- 
visors was the sherilT's monthly vrash bill. Local administration 
generally is reflected in the current accounts of Vickburg's "im- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 411 

provement'' expenditures. The published proceedings tell of a 
meeting in the board of mayor and aldermen for ''consideration 
of the bids of ]^vlartin Keary and P. L. Meath, in the contract to 
improve the wharf landing. The bid of Meath was shut out upon 
the point that his proposal was tendered after the prescribed hour 
and that "a competent engineer had estim.ated that it would cost 
the amiOunt of his bid, $87,500, to do the work." A minority of 
the aldermen insisted on acceptance of Meath's bid because it was 
$29,000 less than Keary's and his bond was better. Meath's at- 
torney was refused his request to speak in defense of his client's 
bond and the' contract was let to Martin Keary, one of the most 
noted corruptionists and public works extortioners of the time. 
The mayor of Vicksburg, a carpet bagger nam.ed Webber, was 
appointed, as stated in a preceding chapter. He was a stranger 
to the people when appointed and coming among them with an 
unsavory reputation which he lived up to and verified. During 
the administration of Alayor Webber Vicksburg was loaded with 
near half a million of debt for Keary's contracts for ''improving" 
the streets, landing, and sewerage. 

While Gov. Alcorn had in retaining them in the offices faith- 
fully carried out his compact with the reconstruction mercenaries, 
he had not won their trust or favor. Ambition, and hatred of the 
old Democratic leaders of the state, had prepared him for "the 
covenant with hell." But lie could not divest himself of a certain 
scorn for HIS tools, which was repaid by the carpet ba::"gers in 
ill-disguised hate for THEIRS. Having given him his consider- 
ation, a seat in the senate, his appointments being all given out, 
they were desirous to have the governor vacate the executive 
chair. Upon a report that he w^ould not resign immediately upon 
the beginning of his term in the senate there was a move to force 
him to do so. To have him show his hand, he was formally no- 
tified of his election, in the first days of tlie legislaiure session. 
He responded effusively but failed to disclose his intentions. 
March 4th having passed and the governor showing no intention 
of resigning to take his seat in the senate it was treated as vacant 
by a resolution, which passed both houses, to hold an election for 
senator. One ballot was held in the house, after wliich the flsfht 

412 Mississippi Historical Society. 

was called off on a pledge of the governor to resign in December, 
to which date congress had adjourned. Neither party cared to 
push hostilities to extremities. The governor's position had just 
been greatly strengthened by a supreme court decision, affirming 
his right to removals from office. There was in the decision a 
power of reward and punishment that greatly toned down oppo- 
sition to the governor. The white people of the state viewed the 
matter of his continuing in the governorship with much indiffer- 
ence. There had been complete disillusion of expectations that he 
would lift his administration above its source — disillusion fully 
shared in by Gov. Alcorn's friends and intimates of the old Whig 
party. Acts he had favored, especially the militia and the pubhc 
schools bill, and his scandalous appointees, had caused deep re- 
sentment and aversion towards one whom all had hoped to regard 
with gratitude and trust. 

Nor had Gov. Alcorn preserved himself from suspicion that 
he was defiled by the pitch he handled. The legislature of 1870 
had voted him a special contingent fund, of $50,000, "to be ac- 
counted for to the legislature at its next regular session or at any 
time the legislature may require." That act w^as approved April 
6th. On June 14rh he approved an amendment to it — authorizing 
it? use *'in the secret service of the state ; and such part as used 
by him he shall not be required to account for when in liis opinion 
the disclosure of the appropriation should be withheld.'' It never 
was accounted for, and no knowledge ever leaked out of how 
more than a fifih of it was ever expended. There was the scandal 
of a sum of $30,000 borrowed from McComb, the president of 
the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern railroad. Of this 
repayment was claimed in a reply of the state official organ to 
published criticism of the transaction. But this did not remove 
the common belief that the loan was connected with the approval 
of an act empowering the governor to transfer the stock of the 
state in that road, and all other roads in the state, to the New 
Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern. Vide acts of ISTl, section 
13, page 179. There were severe charges against tiie Richardson 
convict lease, which the governor was urged by the state press to 
veto, and which he permitted to become a law. The following is 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 413 

quoted from the testimony in the Ku Klux investigation, of the 
Hon. J. F. Sessions, a member of the legislature of 1870 and 
1871, and a man of irreproachable character. *'It was commonly 
supposed and generally believed that the passage of the bill was 
secured by bribery. The substance of it was that the penitentiary 
should be leased for a period of fifteen years. Richardson to be 
paid $18,000 per annum. * * * There was great competition 
for the contract. =h * * 

Other parties proposed to pay the state for the labor of the con- 
victs." For the notorious Jones pardon the governor was severe- 
ly censured. According to the story as published a Coahoma 
planter named John Jones had killed a man named Allen; some 
years before his pardon. For this he was indicted and employed 
Alcorn to defend him. The result of his trial was a hung jury — 
it standing eleven for conviction. The case came up at the Coa- 
homa court, in 1870, held by Judge C. C. Shackelford. Gov. Al- 
corn attended the trial and agreed with the judge upon a plea of 
guilty. Jones was immediately granted a pardon. Gov. Algorn 
was called upon in the press to deny or admit the facts as stated, 
and if he did not receive, for getting Jones out of the trouble, a 
contingent fee of a plantation valued at $75,000. There v/as no 
reply published from the governor. 

One of the chief duties of this legislature was the consideration 
and adoption of the new code, prepared and submitted by three 
commissioners appointed by the Governor. His selections had 
been beyond criticism. Two of the commissioners, Judges John- 
ston and Campbell, were among the ablest and most respected 
members of their profession, while the other, Judge Lovering, 
was a lawyer of more than ordinary ability. The product of 
their labors, the code of 1871, was, under the code commission 
law, subjected to revision of the supreme judges. In his message, 
passing it up to the legislature Governor Alcorn dwelt upon the 
new^ system of society, which ''should be made to impress itself 
upon the code." Naturally the instrument was fully expressive 
of this idea. The court system was wholly remodeled. While 
there were many changes for the mere sake of innovation, the 
material modifications were to formulate the new status of the 

414 Mississippi Historical 5>ociety. 

negro population — to abolish all statutory provisions and phrases 
in conflict with emancipation, enfranchisement and civil ecjuality. 
At this early day the question of race mingling in places of pub- 
lic assemblage, on cars, boats, theatres, was a matter of consider- 
ation and contention. And a lav/ had been passed at the previous 
session providing a heavy penalty against any official of a railroad 
or steamboat who compelled passengers to occupy any particular 
car or part of car, stage coach, or steamboat, on account of race 
or color. In an effort to secure some working plan or modifica- 
tion of this law at the 1871 session, Gov. Alcorn brought about a 
meeting of high railroad officials and the negro members, at the 
executive mansion. There was an offer of separate cars of like 
quality, which was scornfully rejected by the negro legislators 
who were mostly Northern adventurers. A Vicksburg Herald ac- 
count of the conference said "the blacks were very insolent in 
their demands, claiming the right to go into the ladies' cars.'^ 
But there was less friction than was supposed. At this period 
any disposition among the negro masses tow^ard social equality 
was dormant. Besides there were few railroads, and the negro 
travel was small. The river boats, w^hich were the chief means 
of travel in the black belt disregarded the law, and practically 
without question. This was because the old race relations, of 
deference and obedience by the negroes and kindly feeling and 
consideration by the w^hites survived, and governed personal in- 
tercourse. The few attempts of negro leaders to exercise their 
rights under the law were summarily suppressed. 

In the session of 1870 Gov. Alcorn had addressed the legisla- 
ture a message urging an amendment to an act of 1SG7. providing- 
for payment of the ante bellum levee debts. Under that law all 
claims were required to be presented to a board of which Gov. 
Alcorn was prsident, as he had been of the ante bellum board. It 
was called the liquidating levee board. The claims were required 
to be presented within a prescribed time and exchanged, upon ap- 
proval, for bonds of the liquidating board. An acreage tax of 5 
cents per acre on the front, and 3 cents on the back, county lands 
was provided for their payment. Under the operations of this 
law claims to the amount of near a million dollars had been ap- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 415 

proved and bonds issued for them. Of the total near half had 
been liquidated and returned when Gov. Alcorn's message ap- 
peared. It alleged failure of a number of the military sheriffs to 
collect the tax, and legislative provision was asked to enforce 
collections and correct the inequality of some counties paying and 
some defaulting. This was w'ell, but it was a Grecian horse. En- 
veloped w^ithin it was a pressing call that the books be reopened 
for presentation of claims which had been disallowed and barred. 
"In opening the books," the message said, "care should be taken 
that we do not open the door to fraud." The message was ig- 
nored by the legislature to which it was addressed. But in the 
session of 1871 an act w^as passed in accordance with the terms it 
presented. It provided for an audit commissioner w^ho should 
have his office at Jackson, remote from the district and the people 
in interest. A non-resident of the district was appointed — one 
w^bolly unacquainted with the levee affairs, or the horde of claim- 
ants that descended upon him. While seemingly rigid require- 
ments of proof was prescribed, the commissioner validated and 
registered claims to the amount of nearly half a million dollars 
that ought to have been tested in the courts which the claimants 
had kept out of. A large proportion of the increase w^as believed 
to be fraudulent and all were outlawed by non-compliance w^ith 
the law of 1867, or rejection by the home board of which Gov. 
Alcorn was president. . It w^as all looked upon as a great wrong 
and one that suggested corrupt influence. But there was no re- 
course — for the time public sentiment was paralyzed and per- 
verted. Under the operations of the Alcorn law speculators 
bought up the liquidating bonds at as low as 10 cents on the dol- 
lar, which was the ruling price until the restoration of represen- 
tative government. By the use of extraordinary activity and ef- 
fort a bill which contemiplated vast robbery in the Greenville le- 
vee district was defeated at this session of the legislature. But 
one incorporating the upper Delta counties, called district No. 1, 
was passed. It authorized the issuance of a million dollars of 
bonds, which part of the law was complied wath. But the pro- 
ceeds of the bond sales were stolen almost totally and openly. So 
flagrant was the steal, and such a mere pittance was expended in. 

416 Mississippi Historical Society. 

levee building that payment of the taxes to meet the terms of the 
bonds was resisted, and is in liquidation to this day. 

The reconstruction legislature finally adjourned May 13th, 
1870. Having provided for the election of a new legislature in 
the closing days of the session a legislative apportionment bill was 
passed which went to the limits of partisanship, and caused ex- 
treme resentment toward Governor Alcorn, for approving it. 
Under the apportionment embraced in the constitution the de- 
cided majority of both house and senate was vested in the black 
constituencies. This was increased in the legislative apportion- 
ment, and in the most obnoxious manner. The then sparsely set- 
tled white counties of southeast Mississippi were formed into leg- 
islative districts, the principle of county representation being 
overthrown. Out of eight of these couniies four legislative dis- 
tricts were formed, with one member each. The four member- 
ships taken from them were placed to increase the repre:-entation 
of the black counties. White counties were linked with black, 
so as to defeat their candidates for the senate. In fact the leg- 
islative membership was so apportioned that nothing short of a 
revolution could divest the radicals of a majority. Having thus 
fittingly terminated a career, a riotous adjournment followed. 
But before returning to their constituencies the majority were 
treated to a ''blow out" at the Governor's mansion, which was 
thus referred to by the Jackson Clarion: "In this disorder the 
mongrels adjourned to the executive mansion where a social 
equality orgy was celebrated and the quarrels which had disturbed 
the 'eminent man' (Alcorn) and his carpet bag and African al- 
lies, were drowned in the flowing bowl. And thus this libel upon 
representative government wound up its career." 

While the state found relief in the adjournment of the legislat- 
ure, every county court house sheltered a robbers' den. So rank 
had become the official corruption in Washington county that in 
July the demand upon Gov. Alcorn for investigation and remov- 
als resulted in a show of action. To probe charges made plainly 
and with circumstance, by the county paper, the Greenville Times, 
ex-Judge Grafton Baker, an old and respected citizen, was com- 
missioned by the governor to take testimony and make a report. 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 417 

He opened court and called for the production of proof. The 
matter was taken seriously, all of the leading members of the 
bar volunteering for the prosecution. The trial lasted a week, 
establishing by the records the truth of everything charged. Rob- 
bery and corrupt appropriation of the public funds was shown to 
pervade the whole conduct of affairs. Nearly every coun- 
ty and town official was convicted of embezzlement or some form 
of thieving from the taxpayers. This involved the sheriff, the 
treasurer, assessor, district attorney, clerks, board of county and 
city administrators — all officials, in fact, were implicated. Judge 
Baker discharged his commission honestly and faithfully. He 
carried with him to Jackson sufficient proof of malfeasance in of- 
fice to call for the rem.oval of all the incumbents, provided the 
commission of investigation was honestly issued. His report was 
submitted to the governor and there it rested. The only action 
had under it was the removal of Sheriff Webber, who had se- 
cured his appointment by bargain as related in a preceding chap- 
ter. He was neither more nor less guilty than the rest. This fact 
was so significant that it came to be believed that the investigation 
was covertly designed to secure a pretext for the removal of 
Webber who was one of the proprietors of the organ of the 
Ames faction, then engaged in assailing Gov. Alcorn. But worst 
of all, giving the Washington county complainants a stone instead 
of the bread for which they asked, the negro Stites, from whom 
he had, with the governor's knowledge and approval, bought the 
office the year before, was appointed to the office. ' The appoint- 
ment was regarded with aversion and dread. For it was a part 
of the creed of a desperate condition, one easily understood, that 
any white man, however odious, was preferable as sheriff to any 
negro however unobjectionable individually. The result was that 
the white citizens joined Webber in defeating the efforts of the 
negro appointee in making his bond. This had to be approved 
by the county board of supervisors, all negroes except one. But 
they were easily reached by Webber, who continued to hold the 

When this legislature met official abuses and corrupt practices 
was bearing the fruit of disorders, in spots. And in a message 

418 Mississippi Historical Society. 

February 14th, Governor Alcorn informed the legislature tliat 
'*in apprehension of organized resistance of the law in eastern 
counties of the state I took steps for the organ 'zation of a militia 
in these counties." What he had done was to send Major Gen- 
eral E. Stafford, a ''pot valiant" carpet bagger and editor of the 
official journal, and ''Colonel" Ireland, commonly shied "big yal- 
ler," to organize companies of whites and blacks respectively. 
After performing that duty the doughty pair had rendered an ex- 
pense account. This, as related in the message, "the auditor of 
public accounts labors under some difficulty as to the obligation 
resting on him under my certificate of account presented by the 
paymaster. He appears to think that while I am authorized by 
law to call out tlie militia, I can do so but by his consent to pay 
the bills." It was upon this isbue thai the legislature vvas mvcked. 
The response was an appropriation of $3,000. There was no con- 
templation of "organized resistance of the law," but on March 6th 
there was a serious clash at Meridian between the white citizens 
and certain notoriously lawless negroes. The story of this mur- 
derous riot, which was investigated by a committee of congress, 
as well as Governor Alcorn, is carried in the author's previous 
contribution — ''The Enfranchisemient Act of 1871 and the Ku 
Klux Klan in Mississippi" — in Vol. IX of the Historical Society 

The first work of the 1871 campaign by the radicals was a set- 
tlement of the war within their camp — a test of strength between 
Alcorn and Ames. Pleading for endorsement of the Governor, his 
organ urged the convention "not to forget that he is essential to 
our success ;" and that "by unity alone could the party have 
strength for permanence." Perhaps the most convincing argu- 
ment used was that "the result of the election may render it ab- 
solutely necessary for Governor Alcorn to forego his senatorial 
honors and to continue the vigorous and ma>ter]y Governor of 
Mississippi." The Radical convention met August 30th, with Al- 
corn and Ames both in attendance. There were no officers to 
nominate — the convention being called for adoption of resolutions 
and the selection of an executive committee for tiie campaign for 
election of a new legislature. The negro was more in evidence 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 419 

in this vulture's swarm than in any previous one, and they were 
very turbulent. But the troubled waters were quieted under the 
recognition that unity was necessary to success. Alcorn and 
Ames both addressed the convention. The keynote of the conven- 
tion was harmony. But when Alcorn was consulted about a res- 
olution endorsing Ames with him, he refused — saying if he was 
endorsed Ames must not be, and if the convention gave its en- 
dorsement to Ames he would not have it. His command of pat- 
ronage and position, the fear of his threat to give up the senator- 
ship and continue Governor was resistless. So Ames and his fol- 
lowing pocketed their chagrin and bided their time. The Clar- 
ion published a tabulated statement the day the convention met 
exhibiting that for the year preceding the Pilot, the official jour- 
nal, had drawn out of the treasury $160,500. This was perhaps 
the material issue between the paper and the governor. On the 
same day it threw a brick in the Alcorn camp by challenging the 
editor of the Alcorn organ to deny that he had been a member 
and a high officer in the Ku Klux Klan. The Pilot retorted by 
saying that "as the figures of the public printing had been fur- 
nished by the Governor to the columns of a Democratic paper, will 
he not favor that paper with a list of the expenditures of the se- 
cret service fund ? There has been about $55,000 drawn from the 
treasury on account of that fund, which the public would like to 
see the vouchers for." The public wish for a sight at these 
vouchers remained ungratified. 

His administration having been endorsed by the Radical con- 
vention, a letter was addressed Gov. Alcorn by a number of prom- 
inent Democrats asking that he agree to a joint canvass of the 
state with Gen. Robert Lowry; that the voters might have the 
opportunity of passing on it. After some dodging and sparring 
an agreement for such joint debate at five places in the state was 
published September 20th. The following statement of the issues 
to be discussed was tendered by the governor: "First, that the 
maintenance of the Republican party is essential to the peace, 
prosperity and order of the state. Second, that the restoration of 
the Democratic party would by placing the state in discord with 
the national government endanger all the progress we have made 

420 Mississippi Historical Society. 

in return to our old place in the Union. Third, that the Repub- 
lican party has been a faithful administrator of the affairs of the 
state, and has administered those affairs with integrity and econ- 
omy unequalled by any other administration of the affairs of the 
state for the last forty years." Contradicted as it was by every 
feature and fact of public affairs, this insolent claim occasioned 
the deepest resentment. Sorely oppressed and plundered by the 
basest tools of reconstruction, holding rule over them by Alcorn's 
commissions, it was regarded as a mockery of their distresses. 
His speeches during the campaign were marked by the same of- 
fensive and unfeeling contempt for the wrongs suffered at the 
bands of his following. 

In spite of an earnest and patriotic struggle the election went 
against the Democrats. The radicals secured a majority in both 
brarches of the Legislature, but in the representatives it was by 
one so narrow that only the grossly unfair apportionment saved it. 
In nearly all of the white counties local government was rescued 
from the aliens. Federal troops were freely used and contributed 
largely to the result by keeping up the intimidations of the Ku 
Klux campaign. Raids and arrests were m.ade on the most trif- 
ling cases and complaints. On receipt of news of an assassina- 
tion in Leflore County, a company of infantry was hurried there 
from Jackson. At Winona it was learned that the victim was a 
white man and a Democrat and his assassins negroes, whereupon 
the soldiers were sent back. The negroes were voted solidly as 
organized in their Loyal Leagues. Disorder and demoralization 
prevailed to a greater extent than ever before. Excited and in- 
flamed by the speeches of Governor Alcorn and others, to look 
upon Democratic success as tantamount to their reduction to a 
condition approaching slavery, they were greatly wrought up. 
Rioting and violence were narrowly averted in a number of 
places. The Governor, who led the radical campaign, was met at 
various places by General Lowry, Colonel Lamar, Judge H. 
Chalmers and Hon. E. Barksdale, who exposed the falsity of his 
assertions, his sham and shady record. A dramatic incident oc- 
curred at Meridian, in the joint debate between the Governor and 
Editor Barksdale of the Clarion. From his seat the Governor de- 


War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 421 

nied a charge that the editor of his official journal, the man he 
had appointed Superintendent of the State lunatic asylum, had 
been an active member and a high official of the Ku Klux. 
Barksdale thus met his denial : 

"Sir, for two months past I have made this charge and Dr. 
Compton himself has not denied it. Now you have undertaken to 
do for him what he has not done for himself. To settle this ques- 
tion I will make this proposition. I will again make the charge 
and if Dr. Compton does not deny it, or if he does deny it and I 
will prove it, will you pledge yourself to dismiss him from office 
and the organship of your party?" 

The offer was received in silence and confusion, to which the 
attention of the audience was directed with telling effect. It con- 
stituted a peculiar aggravation of Governor Alcorn's part in the 
outrageous Ku Klux prosecutions, that Dr. Compton, his most 
trusted friend and counsellor, had been the organizer of the order 
in his section, in 1867, and active in inducing men not only in his 
own but adjoining counties to join it. The fact had been charged 
and substantiated, in Alcorn's presence, through witnesses by 
Colonel Lamar, at Holly Springs, where Mr. Compton lived. 

While a great strain upon the patience of the w-hite people of 
Mississippi, the 1871 election passed, as above stated, without 
riot. To this statement there is just one sinister exception. A 
few days before the election, October 21st, a white man named 
Lee was brutally murdered by a negro mob of nearly a thousand, 
which was being addressed by the carpetbag county leaders and 
candidates at Artesia, in Lowndes County. The affray so faith- 
fully reflects the prevailing political condition of the South that 
the testimony of two eye-witnesses before the congressional com- 
mittee is quoted. Sheriff-elect Hiram W. Lewis testified: 

"Mr. Bliss, candidate for the Legislature, had just got up; 
had not spoken more than a sentence, when a voice was heard di- 
rectly on the left hand of my buggy, saying: 'Are you a white 
man?' I looked and saw it was a white man in the midst of the 
crowd, the only white man in several rods of the buggy. I 
hunched Mr. Bliss and told him to pay no attention and he kept 
right on. In a minute or two I heard the report of a pistol in 

4:Z2 Mississippi Historical Society. 

that direction. I looked and saw this man running. I called as 
loud as I could to let him go. But the colored men took after 
him. One colored man standing in the called as loud as he 
could, three or four times 'to catch him.' All at once there were 
five or six shots fired in rapid succession. He dropped instantly 
and was dead. A number of colored men came to me that night 
and told me they saw him when he pulled his pistol and fired 
quickly at Mr. Bliss or myself in the buggy. They told me he 
began to fire at them when he found out he could not escape." 

Dr. Oscar C. Brothers of Artesia testified as follows : 

"In the afternoon my attention v/as called by the sound of a 
•drum and fife and yelling coming up the railroad. It was a party, 
numbering I suppose six or eight hundred. A freedman, Levi 
Jones, was mounted at the head of the column. It was divided off 
in companies, each having its commander riding with a sword. 
One company seemed to be armed with guns. Lewis was about 
the center in a buggy. Bliss in a carriage. The speaking began in 
front of the station. A friend suggested we get on our horses 
and ride up and hear what they had to say. We rode in among 
the mounted men with guns. We were about twenty paces from 
the speakers. After about three minutes I saw smoke from a 
gun, heard the sound and am satisfied it was a gun. Then I 
heard the yell : 'White man, kill him, kill him.' The crowd from 
the buggy west seemed to shove in that direction with one ac- 
cord, accompanied with a firing of six or seven guns or pistols. 
As soon as that was over some one hollored : 'Boys, to your wag- 
ons and get your guns.' I saw parties take three or four guns 
from a wagon. A negro took out a carpet sack of what I sup- 
posed to be pistols. I said : 'For God's sake don't take those pis- 
tols out.' His reply was : 'T'U be damned if I am not going to 
take those pistols out.' I dismounted and went to the dead man. 
I found there ^Ir. Lewis and Mr. Bliss. I said to Mr. Lewis : 
'Can't you disperse this crowd? Already one innocent man has 
been killed. If you don't I will telegraph to Columbus and West 
Point and get men to disperse them.' He said : 'Yes, I can dis- 
j>erse them.' He said or did something and the crowd dispersed 
like magic. He had the most complete control over the negroes. 
I am no more afraid of the negroes than I am of you gentlemen. 
I have been raised with them. But if Lewis had said: 'Kill Dr. 
Brothers,' I would have been killed in a twinkling. Senator, if 
he had said kill Senator Pratt, it would have been enough. But 
if they wanted to borrow a horse or a piece of tobacco they 
would not go to Lewis. They would come to me." 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 423 

The testimony of Lewis and Bliss conflicted with that of Dr. 
Brothers as to whether Lee was armed. Dr. Brothers referred 
the committee to the testimony on the inquest and asked to have 
the magistrate and the otl:er witnesses summoned. He said its 
record would show that "one freedman only testified that Lee 
had a pistol, and other freedmen and white men testified he did 
not. And that the magistrate threw the one man's testimony 

Circuit Judge Orr, whose court was in session and investigat- 
ing the Artesia riot, testified that he '*did not think Lee had fired 
a pistol or was armed. He instructed the sheriff to proceed to 
the scene and make arrests of those guilty of the murder, of 
whom the coroner's jury had returned a verdict against six, 
named, and others unknow^n. The sheriff arrested and jailed 
sixty-four, including Lewis and Bliss. This included witnesses 
as well as those charged with the crime. ''The sheriff informed 
me of what he had done," testified Judge Orr, "and I informed 
him he had misconstrued my instructions. At once all but 
eleven were discharged." But this did not save the luckless 
sheriff. Under the partisan cry raised he was summarily re- 
moved by Governor Alcorn and hauled off to Oxford under one 
of G. Wiley Wells' charges of "violating the Enforcement Act." 
The affair created no little excitement in Lowndes and adjoining 
counties — white men banded and moved toward Artesia, under 
the reports of danger of massacre of whites. But United States 
troops were hurried to the scene and they returned home. The 
Columbus Index said: 

"All is quiet along the Potomac to-day, though last night we 
were excited by a report that 500 negroes were march-ng from 
Aberdeen to burn the city and release the prisoners charged with 
the Artesia murder. The negroes are angry and excited while 
the whites are calm and ready for anything that may transpire." 

The excitement did not subside with the conclusion of the 
election. The habit of parading under arms, with beat of drum 
and flying banners, the negroes were loath to lay aside. It was 
doubly dangerous in its tantalizing offens-veness to the whites. 

424 Mississippi Historical Society. 

In Oktibbeha the nuisance became so incessant and intolerable 
that warrants of arrest were issued by a United States commis- 
sioner for the League leaders, and placed in the hands of a dep- 
uty United States marshal to serve. This caused a great up- 
roar. All the Leaguers of the county w^ere gathered to resist 
the arrest. They entered the little town of Starkville in military 
array. In an attempt to disperse them the carpetbag sheriff, a 
brother of Governor Powers, was badly wounded and several 
negroes were shot. The whites being totally unprepared for 
strife the town was menaced with outrage and sack. IXiring 
the night armed squads rode in from every direction and afforded 

Out Heroding the radical Herods in an effort to justify his 
embracery of negro equality of citizenship, Alcorn arrogantly 
and offensively declared in his campaign address that *' South- 
ern people surrendered all rights of citizenship, all rights of 
property, when they laid down their arms. If the government 
had put to the sword every white man, if the guillotine had been 
moved by steam, no voice in all the world w^ould have been raised 
in your behalf. Look at the treatment of the commune by the 
French government. The world endorses that, and would have 
endorsed similar treatment of ourselves. What right have we 
to talk of the constitutions." There was no lack of hot rejoinder 
to such offensive and inflammatory reviling. The following res- 
olution adopted in what w^as described as the largest meeting of 
white men in Vicksburg expressed the common sentiment the 
Governor aroused against him, for his Ku Klux proclamation 
and his campaign speeches seeking to place the white men of the 
South beneath the negroes in the scale of American citizenship: 
"Resolved, that we regard Jas. L. Alcorn as an open and avowed 
enemy of his race; that we denounce him as a corrupt tool of a 
vindictive and relentless policy; as the friend and abettor of the 
vilest set of villains that ever preyed upon a peaceful people; 
that we utterly repudiate and condemn the doctrine as enunciated 
by him that nothing short of the gallows is a fit punishment to 
a free and high spirited people; and that we hereby deny that he 
is in any way, a representative or an exponent of the feeling and 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 425 

sentiments of the upright and honorable people of Mississippi." 
This is a bitter and a sweeping arraignment. But it cannot 
be said to go beyond the justification of facts as recorded. 

In spite of an earnest and patriotic struggle the election went 
against the Democrats. The radicals secured a majority in both 
branches of the legislature, but in the representatives it was by 
one so narrow that only the grossly unfair apportionment saved 
it. In nearly all of the white counties local government was res- 
cued from the aliens. Federal troops were freely used and con- 
tributed largely to the result by keeping up the intimidations of 
the Ku Klux. campaign. Raids and arrests were made on the 
most trifling cases and complaints. On receipt of news of an 
assassination in Leflore county, a company of infantry were hur- 
ried there from Jackson. At Winona it was learned that the vic- 
tim was a white man and a Democrat, whereupon the soldiers 
were sent back. The negroes were voted solidly as organized 
in their Loyal Leagues. Disorder and demoralization prevailed 
to a greater extent than ever before. Excited and inflamed by 
the speeches of Gov. Alcorn and others, to look upon Democratic 
success as tantamount to their reduction to a condition approach- 
ing slavery, they were greatly wrought up. Rioting and violence 
was narrowly averted in a number of places. 

Alcorn's retirement as Governor was viewed without regret 
from any class or quarter. Odious and oppressive as his admin- 
istration had been, the cup ran over in the campaign in which he 
exerted himself in vindication of his record, and to perpetuate 
radicalism in the state. How the white people of the state looked 
upon the change from him to Governor Powers is to be read 
in the press comments of the time, of which the following from 
the West Point Citizen is a true reflection: "We know Gover- 
nor Powers, and although a carpet bagger w^e really believe he 
will make us an infinitely better Governor than Alcorn. He has 
no chronic hates to avenge, no old political enemies to punish 
nor ambitious projects to carry out as did Alcorn. In short, if 
our rulers must be carpet baggers or scalawags, let us have the 
least of the two evils — the carpet bagger. May the good Lord 
deliver us from being ruled by such a miserable political Esau 

426 Mississippi Historical Society. 

as the scalawag." Had all the carpet bag-gcrs been of the class 
of Governor Powers, the rule would have held good. But with 
negro equality bigots and South haters such as Ames, it failed. 
He never ceased to regard the white people of Mississippi as 
conquered rebels. Holding them as outside the pale of Ameri- 
can citizenship and entitled to no sympathy in their distress, and 
being without color prejudice, he divided the population into two 
classes — the loyal blacks, and the disloyal whites. Alcorn, who 
divided the honors of reconstruction in Mississippi w4th Ames, 
was wholly different. He had race pride and strong sectional 
proclivities.. But with him all was secondary and subject to 
boundless e^'otism, selfish ambition and bitter resentment. After 
having' gratified and satiated all of these unworthy and sordid 
motives through persecutions of his ov/n people as relentless as 
Saul of Tarsus, he entered upon his reward and seat in the 
United States senate. Finding Ames, whom he despised, and 
who held him in utter distrust and detestation, in high favor with 
the administration, he took his place with the ''liberals." They 
displayed their feeling toward each other in speeches of ex- 
treme crimination and recrimination, for which their detestable 
records afforded fine themes. 

The clash between Alcorn and Ames came over the bill to ex- 
tend the suspension of the right of habeas corpus. The suspen- 
sion was a provision of the Ku Klux act of the year before, 
which was by its terms limited to the life of the session of con- 
gress then sitting. In the course of his speech, repelling the 
charge of party treachery, Alcorn drew this picture of the fruits 
of his administration, which while showing there was no call for 
such a law, justifies the comment that "his glory was his shame." 

"In all those Mississippi river counties, for three hundred 
miles, not a man holds an ofirice unless he holds it at the will of 
the colored people, and a majority of the offices, I will say two- 
thirds of the offices, are in truth and in fact held by the colored 
• people. Is it possible that the courts cannot administer justice 
in a society like this? Is it possible that the county in which I 
live, where the colored population is seventy-six per cent of the 
whole; in the county below me, where it is eighty per cent; in 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily, 427 

the county below that, where it is eighty-three per cent ; and in 
the county beluvv that, where it is ninety per cent of the whole? 
Colored men sit upon juries, and it is frequently the case that 
the jury is entirely composed of colored men. Colored men are 
overseers of the roads. A colored man is the sheriff of Attala 
county, appointed by myself. A colored man is elected sheriff 
of Issaquena county; a colored man is elected sheriff of Adams 
county; a colored man is elected sheriff of Jefferson county, and 
colored men are nominated sheriffs in several other counties in 
the state of Mississippi; and yet it is said justice cannot be ad- 
ministered there, when every judge who sits upon the bench is 
a Republican, appointed by a Republican Governor and confirmed 
by a Republican senate." 

In his boastful claim of having Africanized government in the 
river counties, Governor Alcorn did not exaggerate. In Wash- 
ington county in the 1871 election the negroes had so developed 
under radical tutelage that they almost crowded their carpet bag 
tutors away from the pie counter. They elected a colored sheriff, 
both court clerks, the assessor, the coroner, four out of five sup- 
ervisors and nine out of ten justices and constables. The white 
radicals had not willingly accepted such a distribution of the otli- 
ces. A hostility was engendered out of which the resident whites 
had sought to profit. But the black leaders felt too secure in 
their strength at the polls to listen to appeals of moderation — 
while disposed to throw off the carpet bag yoke they had not 
outgrown any of their distrust of the ex-slave owners. The elec- 
tion over, however, they were confronted with the obstacle of 
bond making. The situation and the proposition is revealed in 
the following from the Greenville Times : ''Let our colored 
friends observe that their white candidates have made their 
bonds. Now while soliciting native white property owners to 
make your bonds just remember that we asked you to allow us 
two members of the board of supervisors that our property 
rights might be represented. In the face of this request you 
have elected a board from no one of whose members could dam- 
ages for wrongful or unlawful acts be recovered. And now you 
turn to us, in your straits. We make you this proposition, be- 

428 Mississippi Historical Society. 

fore the cost of another elcciion is incurred. Make two of your 
supervisors resign and let us nominate their successors. Then 
satisfy us as to your deputies and we will make your bonds." 

This proposition meeting with no favor, to defeat the instal- 
lation in the office of sheriff and tax collector of a turbulent and 
dissolute mulatto, a semi-alliance was effected between the white 
citizens and the carpet baggers. The immediate effects of this 
arrangement was to continue the carpet bag control of the levee 
board, which the negro leaders had planned to possess, and to 
secure for the white citizens representative city government for 

In a special election to fill the Washington county vacancies 
occasioned by the failure of negroes to make official bonds, the 
issue of especial interest was over the sheriff's office. The can- 
didates were the negro elected at the regular election, who had 
failed to make his bond, and the hold-over carpet bag incumbent. 
The whites supported the latter. Under their newly modified 
relations with his class they dominated the situation to an extent, 
through the matter of making bonds. This was an advantage 
that was fully appreciated, as the following from the Greenville 
Times shows : ''We have no candidate. The Republicans con- 
trol the matter and all we ask is an honest man and a good bond. 
and we are determined to have the latter. If necessary we will 
bring every bond that may be accepted by the board of super- 
visors, before the chancellor for his decision upon its solvency.'' 
The election was duly held, and controlling the election 
officials the carpet bag candidate was given the certificate ; 
one half the precinct boxes being thrown out over quibbles 
and technicalities. Regarding the case as one where the 
ends justified the means, the whites looked on complacently. 
Tliere were threats of resorting to violence — runners were 
sent out summoning the negro men to come to Grtenville 
armed. But lacking white leadership the movement fell through. 
In a way that was non-political the negro leaders had their re- 
venge. At this time many counties in the state, especially in the 
river section were worked up over elections for subscriptions to 
various speculative railroad lines. To secure the needed votes 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 429 

called for much paying of court to those who claimed influence 
over the negro vote. The necessities of a policy tliat was held 
as vital to material progress and prosperity involved certain ex- 
ceedingly distasteful condecensions and concessions towards as 
rascally and insolent a gang of negro upstarts as ever reconstruc- 
tion aggregated in a county. And ^fter all, the sacrifice of self- 
respect and race pride was "love's labor lost." Posterity will 
never measure all the trials and humiliations to which the white 
men of the reconstruction days were subjected and patriotically 

Possession of the board of supervisors, the clerks' offices and 
the public administration afforded opportunities of warrant issu- 
ance that were taken advantage of by the negro officials to an 
extent that threatened to wreck the county finances. The Wash- 
ington county board of supervisors raised the 1ST2 tax rate of 
$8.10 per thousand of values to $1-1.75 for 1873. The total state 
and county tax levy was $23.25 per thousand, compared with a 
total the year before of $1-4.10. Warrants for many thousands of 
dollars were wasted on mere pretenses of roads, bridges, school 
houses, a jail building and official stationery. Under color of a 
law for copying out worn record books half a dozen negro 
scribes were set to work indiscriminately transcribing books and 
documents at a dollar a page. Learning of a warrant issuance 
on this account of several thousand dollars, tax payers secured 
an injunction which forced the culprits to disgorge their pelf, 
and a practice of limitless robbery was annulled. 

The auditor's report was not refreshing to the tax payers of 
the state. It exhibited an excess in the costs of administering 
the state government over revenue receipts of $400,000. Such 
a showing in the face of a tax rate far beyond all precedent told 
its own story of waste and corruption. To provide for a deficit 
an increase of taxation was asked and enacted. The rate for 
this state taxation was raised from 30 to 70""cents per $100 ad 
valorem — an increase of more than 100 per cent. An additional 
and special tax was levied of 50 cents on the $100 to pay interest 
on bonds issued in lieu of a floating debt. The auditor's report 
was further illuminated by a statement of $75,000 of known de- 


430 Mississippi Historical Society. 

faults of tax collectors and an unknown larger amount. In a 
contemporary speech in the United States Senate, Senator Al- 
corn had stated that of the United States internal revenue col- 
lections in Mississippi, not one-tenth had been paid into the treas- 
ury. At the same time his appointees in every county were steal- 
ing all they could lay their hands on. Such was reconstruction 
in Mississippi in 1872, Having had a taste, the negro officials 
were, if possible, more unblushing and shameless in preying on 
the public than their carpet-bag teachers. The thicvings of a ne- 
gro member of the Warran County Board of Supervisors were 
so irregular and flagrant that the radical organ joined in de- 
nouncing his rascalities. For this the editor was severely cow- 
hided by his brother in black. The paper denounced the flagel- 
lation as ''an unprovoked assault and a source of mortification to 
the editor to come in contact with so disreputable a fellow." 

The legislature met with both the senatorial rivals, Alcorn and 
Ames, present, striving for points of leadership. In the senate 
a follower of the former w^as elected president. In the house 
factional lines quite disappeared in the effort and success of the 
negro members, numbering forty-five, in securing the caucus 
nomination for one of their race. This almost led to the election 
of a Democrat, as the carpet baggers were at heart averse to such 
distinction for a negro. It was looked on as a bitter pill that had 
to be swallowed. So narrow was the Republican majority that 
it was increased by contests, unseating the Democrats from the 
counties of Marshall, Lauderdale, Copiah and Chickasaw. The 
message of Governor Powers confirmed the good impressions 
and hopes of his administration. It was practical, patriotic and 
wholly void of partisanship. He particularly urged legislation 
breaking up the issuance of warrants upon state and county 
treasurers when there was no funds on hand with wh"ch to pay 
them. Warrant issuances at discretion was the common method 
of financing public afrairs, and robbing the people. It was piling 
up debts that threatened total extinction of state and county 
credits, and virtual bankruptcy. The message recommended that 
members of county boards of supervisors, wlr'ch boards pos- 
sessed practically unlimited powers of contracting debts and is- 


War and Recon.struction in Mississippi — McNcily. 431 

suing warrants, be required to give bonds. Other reforms in 
the line of economy and honest administration were suggested. 
He vetoed the scandalous and corrupt penitentiary bill of the 
previous session v/hich his predecessor failed to veto and dared 
not approve. He, a carpet bagger, placed the seal of condemna- 
tion on the despotic and atrocious Alcorn "picked cavalry" bill 
policy, and the tyrannical Ku Klux houndings, by the declaration 
that "there had been no riots or disturbances which the civil 
authorities have not been able to suppress, since the adjournment 
of the legislature ;" and that "the state of the government was 

The legislature adopted a congressional apportionment bill 
which was as partisan as it could be made. The districts were so 
constructed as to give decisive black majorities in all save one, in 
wdiich the white counties of the northeastern portion of the state 
were bunched. The most exciting incident of the session was the 
passage by both houses of a civil rights bill so extreme that its 
enforcement would have been certainly attended by riots. But 
after final passage and enrollment the bill disappeared so myster- 
iously that no tracing of it was left behind. While they voted 
for the bill the white Radicals were so notoriously opposed to it 
that they were openly and abusively charged v/ith its theft. A 
copy was prepared and certified by the clerk of the house, but the 
senate secretary refused to sign it. Placed on passage again, the 
measure went through the house, but enough carpet-bag senators 
dodged as to beat it by a majority of one. 

Among the matters that commanded particular interest in the 
legislature of 1872 was the award of the public printing, and the 
disposal of the state penitentiary. Throughout the reconstruction 
period the former had held a chief place in the scandals of the 
times. A year before Gov. Alcorn had removed the public print- 
ers, and appointed men on whose devotion to his political for- 
tunes he could rely. When the legislature met and held an elec- 
tion for the office his appointee was defeated by a combination 
of Democratic members with the Ames radicals, and the old 
printing company restored under an agreement of division of the 
profits with the state Democratic organ. As this action bore no 

432 Mississippi Historical Society. 

appearance of public advantage Democratic participation in it 
caused much adverse criticism. March 25th Governor Powers 
addressed the legislature on the subject in a message in which he 
said: "For the third time during the present session I call your 
attention to the necessity of materially reducing the rates on pub- 
lic printing. The enormous outlay under existing laws amounts 
to squandering the public revenues. * * * Having thus 
briefly pointed out some of the gross outrages that is practiced 
under the provisions of the law regarding the rates of public 
printing I await the result of your further deliberations." 

Upon adjournment of the legislature an address was issued 
by the Democratic members, urging county organizations "with 
a view of securing an active and successful campaign in the ap- 
proaching Presidential and congressional election." An executive 
committee was appointed as follows : Robert Lowry, chairman ; 
J. M. Stone, J. F. Sessions, A. T. Roane, A. L. Gaines, S. A. D. 
Steele; J. R. Mcintosh, John Caihoon, R. M. Leavell, T. S. Ford, 
and H. M. Street, secretary. At a subsequent meeting of the 
committee a state Democratic convention was called for June 
26th. At this time the liberal Republican opposition to Grant's 
re-election was being urged. At a meeting of certain leaders of 
the movement in Cincinnati, May 2d, Horace Greeley of New 
York, and B. Gratz Brown of Missouri, had been proposed for 
the nomination of President and Vice President. The platform 
was designed to enlist all who opposed the reconstruction policy 
of the Republican party, and the rebuke of the manifold scandals 
and abuses which marked Grant's administration. All citizens, re- 
gardless of previous party affiliations, were urged to join in the 
moven\ent, which was quite imposing in appearance, from the 
number of prominent Republicans at the head of it. Hopeless 
of the election of a Democratic candidate, the movement ap- 
pealed very strongly to the South ; in spite of the inconsistency 
of voting for a ticket headed by one who had achieved national 
reputation and prominence as editor of the most inveterate and 
influential abolition paper in the North, But he had been among 
the first and boldest of his class to call for a halt in the proscrip- 
tive reconstruction policy. His courage and magnanimity in 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 433 

signing Jefferson Davis' bond had moved Southern people pro- 
foundly. Of the honesty and patriotism of his leadership of the 
Liberal cause there could be no question. 

There were nevertheless many leading Democrats to whom 
the Greeley departure was repugnant. They were, as a rule, old 
men upon whom the force of sentiment and association of former 
days bore most heavily. The state Democratic convention as- 
sembled as called, June 20th, and selected delegates to the na- 
tional convention at Baltimore — instructing them to vote for the 
nomination of Greeley and Brown. Hopeless of carrying the 
state, there was an absence of popular enthusiasm and aggres- 
siveness. Nor was there much food for hope in the general re- 
sult. The visible tokens of strength and force were too apparent 
in the South, and the North was not yet ripe for revolt. The de- 
termination to \yin by any means was proclaimed. The Chicago 
Tribune, the leading Republican paper of the West, said, *'If a 
majority is cast for Grant well and good. But if not, the vote of 
the recalcitrant states can be thrown out in the electoral college/' 
There was nothing in the history of the party or the candidate 
to repel belief in their capability to carry out such a menace. The 
nomination at Baltimore, July 9th, was harmonious and unani- 
mous in the nomination of Greeley and Brown. The chairman 
of the Mississippi delegation. Judge H. H. Chalmers, in casting 
the vote of the state, said : "Mr. Chairman — It is inscribed above 
your head, 'Peace and good will.' Mississippi accents the in- 
scription as the watchword of the campaign and casts her vote 
for the illustrious apostle of peace, Horace Greeley." The plat- 
form promulgated by the Liberal Republicans gathering at Cin- 
cinnati, was adopted. Greeley's letter of acceptance was pitched 
solely against the reconstruction policy of his party. 

Thus was launched the campaign of the opposition, with its 
prematurely bom slogan of peace and good will — destined to be 
withered under the fierce glare of Ku Klux discolorations. "Since 
the close of the rebellion," screamed the Washington Chronicle, 
the administration organ, "not less than 23,000 persons black 
and white have been scourged, banished and murdered by the Ku 
Klux Klans of the South. The victims of the horrible barbarity 

434 Mississippi Historical Society. 

have been Republicans — not a single Democrat has suffered." 
Secretary Boutwell made a speech in North Carolina which, as 
reported by the New York Herald opposed "the clasp of hands 
across the bloody chasm of war, and the burial of the bitter ani- 
mosities of the past. No ; rather let the North keep alive the ani- 
mosities and hatreds that led to rebellion until the chasm shall 
be filled, it may be, with the mangled victims of a more cruel 
war, a war of races.*' As North Carolina had been worse 
scourged under the Ku Klux law than any other state the Aug- 
ust election there was looked after by the administration with 
especial concern. The state was deluged with special deputy 
U. S. marshals. In a letter from the state at the close of the cam- 
paign, H. V. Redfield, a famous correspondent of the times wrote 
his paper, the Cincinnati Commercial: "With pardon and the 
Radical party on the one hand and the Albany penitentiary on 
the other, the Ku Klux is not long in making up his mind how 
he will vote." Nevertheless, in spite of the full exercise of such 
influences, Radicalism sustained a complete and final defeat in 
North Carolina. The result was counted as a reflection of na- 
tional sentiment, and that it would have decided effect upon 
Northern opinion. 

In a speech. Senator Morton of Indiana, proposed the follow- 
ing sentiment: "That the rebel soldiers shall never occupy the 
same proud position before the law and before the country as 
that which is occupied by the loyal soldiers." "Go and cast your 
vote for a violator of women, a burner of school houses, a deso- 
lator of churches," says Ben Butler in a speech, "or for Horace 
Greeley. It means all the same." So-called Rebel archives were 
purchased from a so-called Confederate official. In the hands of 
a congressional committee with the venomous Zack Chandler 
chairman, spurious revelations of atrocious plots during the war 
against Northern cities and citizens wxre published. The follow- 
ing is an extract of the inflammable stuff to keep alive the pas- 
sions to which Boutwell and Butler appealed : "A secret session 
of the Confederate Congress was held for the purpose of consid- 
ering claims of a noted chemist now, it is said, editing a ram- 
pant Greeley paper, who had invented the most remarkable life 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 435 

destroying agency ever known. He exhibited a phial containing 
a colorless liquid, which he claimed he could cast into the center 
of the hall and kill every man on the floor in two minutes. A 
number of cats were placed in an apartment and the phial upset. 
All the cats were instantly killed. The committee to which the 
test was referred reported on it satisfactorily, a bureau was 
formed and the chemist made brigadier general, and placed at 
its head. But the collapse of the war prevented the use of the 
engine of destruction upon the Northern cities." Tracts of such 
false stuff were issued for stirring sectional passions. The whole 
fever of the campaign was directed on that evil line, and with 
telling effect. The defeat of Greeley and Brown was overwhelm- 
ing. Again the Radicals were given the pov/er of tv/o thirds ma- 
jority in both houses of Congress. To all appearances the re- 
election of Grant had left the black states of the South more 
hopelessly prostrate before their radical rulers than ever. 

It is probable that no other nomination would have prevailed 
against Grant and tlie Radicals in 1872. But no other looked so 
weak and vulnerable in the after glow. In that light such a se- 
lection is a marvel only to be understood through the utter de- 
pression and despondence of the Democratic party, though the 
explanation does not justify it to reason. Greeley was simply 
sprung upon the country by a grouping of patriotic but badly 
balanced egotists. He was presented in a chorus of eloquent 
and fervid editorials by Samuel Bowles of the Sprin.crfield Re- 
publican, C. A. Dana of the New York Sun, Henry Watterson 
of the Courier-Journal and Murat Halstead of the Cincinnati 
Commercial — all famous and trained journalists of their day. 
Their resounding periods and catchy phrases summoned the op- 
position to concentrate on the man who most appealed to Repub- 
lican tradition and Southern gratitude; and the opposition lead- 
ers and organizations responded to the cry of "Anybody to beat 
Grant." There was a show of enthusiasm at first that seemed 
to afford basis of hope — hope that proved wholly delusive and 

Every element counted on to give Greeley's candidacy strength 
was turned against him. An original abolitionist, one who had 

436 Mississippi Historical Society. 

spent his life in urging the hberation of the blacks, the vote of 
the race was massed against him. He was anathematized by Gar- 
rett Smith and Wendell Phillips as an apostate — an enemy of 
the negroes the latter told them, "whose election they should 
make a cause for a race war." A power during the war on whom 
Lincoln and Stanton leaned, he was denounced as a traitor in 
soldiers conventions. The prohibitionists whose cause his pow- 
erful paper had upheld, held conventions to solidify the temper- 
ance vote for his opponent whose inebriety was notorious. A 
father of protection, the manufacturers of Pennsylvania and 
New England declared against him en masse. A champion of 
the national credit against those who proposed to settle the war 
debt in fiat paper, Wall street furnished the money for his de- 
feat. All of the various classes and interests he had labored for 
turned against him, and the fiercest of all was the harpies of sec- 
tional hate he had nurtured and cultured. Like Actcon's dogs 
they hunted him to the death, for changing from malignancy to 
mercy for the South. Greeley's death in less than a month after 
the election was unspeakably sad and shocking. "Amid treach- 
eries and desertions," wrote the Albany Argus, "his ambition 
frustrated, his honest heart insulted, his hopes of his country 
turned to despair, a life of labor with a pen that had lost its 
place and command, his household desolated by death, he bowed 
down, his heart broken and his brain crazed, and sunk in death." 
Nothing but a sectional rancor that the future generations of 
Americans will find difficulty in comprehending, can explain the 
utter failure of effect of the appeal to the North for liberation of 
the South from the abhorent thralldom to reconstruction mis- 
rule. In its after election comment Horace Greeley's paper, the 
Tribune, said "the great mass of our people feel no sympathy for 
those they still regard as rebels. On the contrary they hold that 
these have been treated more leniently than they deserve." This 
was unquestionably true. And until "lack of s>Tnpathy for 
rebels" was worked to cloak outrages and scandals so flagrant 
that it touched the pride and outward show of self righteousness 
to flie quick," the great mass of Northern people" was deaf to all 
appeals. But joined with this fact there was another tliat can- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 437 

not fail of recognition in locating the cause of Greeley's over- 
whelming defeat. His strength of intellect, honesty and patriot- 
ism were conceded by all fair critics. But he was most widely 
known by eccentricities and fads, for extremes of radicalism, 
that were held to so unfit him for the presidency that his candi- 
dacy was as repugnant to the business interests, as his past poli- 
tics were to Democratic principles. The business view was thus 
stated by the New York Herald: "The alleged abounding cor- 
ruption and despotic acts of the administration, are as feathers 
in the balance against the weighty financial interests of the coun- 
try and the public services of General Grant; and against the 
prevailing conviction that while there is no danger of any violent 
convulsion or shock in his re-election, our whole monetary and 
business system from the banks of Wall street to the vineyards 
of California can be thrown into chaos by a too hasty change of 
the head of the national government." 

Calculations that the Alcorn-Ames feud would influence the 
1872 election in Mississippi failed. While siding with the Liber- 
als in the Senate, x-Mcorn declared for Grant, though he took no 
part in the canvass. There were bitter contests in the district 
conventions over nominations for Congress — the holding mem- 
bers being opposed by negro aspirants. Only one, John R. 
Lynch, the speaker of the representative house, w-on over carpet- 
bag shrewdness and bribes. The most popular and eloquent of 
his race, Secretary of State James Lynch, was beaten after a 
stirring canvass in the Vicksburg district by George C. McKee. 
A negro paper thus commented upon his defeat and death, which 
were close together in time : *'As with a magic wand he swayed 
and moved the masses whilst a candidate for the nomination. 
But it was snatched from him by the demon of corruption. He 
never recovered from the blow and when he fell, he fell a vic- 
tim to the ingratitude of his own race. The arrow hurled against 
his manly breast and deep into his heart lost nothing of its sting 
because it was gilded with gold. Shame, shame upon the colored 
people that they permitted the most gifted orator of his race to 
be thus stricken down. James Lynch was killed by the carpet- 
baggers, and the whole race, as a political power, will soon be 

438 Mississippi Historical Society. 

destroyed by the same instrumentality, and will deserve it, if 
they continue to follow the evil advice of the scoundrels who are 
now filling their pockets ; preparing to run off from Mississippi 
and follow the Landons, the Perces, Packards, and Hallidays 
and a host of other carpet-baggers and rascals who have already 
run away." Prophetic words. 

While the enforcement act of 1871 had served its purpose and 
expired by limitation, the south was plainly shown that Grant's 
second administration would be modelled on his first, deaf to ap- 
peals for justice against wrongs and crimes of corrupt and of- 
fensive alien rule. Secretary of War Belknap, in his 1872 re- 
port, deplored that a sixth of the army was held in the South, 
when all was needed on the western frontier. In his message to 
congress, President Grant gave his indorsement anew to the 
law and the policy which held such a body of troops in the South. 
He said he "could not question the necessity and salutary efifect 
of recent enactments to enforce the rights of citizens to vote in 
the Southern states, and to enforce the provisions of the 14th 
amendment to the constitution." "There would," he said, "be 
no change in his determination to enforce with vigor such acts 
as long as conspiracies and combinations therein named disturbed 
the peace of the country." The election being over and radical- 
ism triumphant, no more was said or heard of these "conspiracies 
and combinations," transparent pretexts for using force in es- 
tablishing radicalism for four years more. Prospects for regain- 
ing representative government in the black states were black 
indeed, at the beginning of 1873. Though Mississippi was 
blessed by comparison with South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana 
and Arkansas, where strife and disorder, as well as corruption, 
prevailed. Writing up the South Carolina condition at this per- 
iod, PI. V. Redfield, a famous correspondent of the Cincinnati 
Commercial said : "I asked General Wallace of Union county 
if he saw any light ahead. 'None whatever,' he replied. Tt is 
all dark.' General Wallace is one of the few Democrats of the 
legislature, and his fine head and honest face looks out of place 
among the riff-raff of carpet-baggers, ignorant negroes and gen- 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 439 

cral slush and scum that make up so large a part of the South 
Carolina legislature. Wallace was a Confederate general," 

In Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama state governments, beaten 
at the polls, were pinned to power by Federal bayonets. North 
Carolina escaped by the skin of her teeth. Alabama's lot was 
peculiarly hard, as she had been released from carpet-bag rule 
by the election of a Democratic governor and legislature in 1870. 
Under the influence and the potential pressure of the United 
States troops in the state capital she was remanded to radicalism. 
In Louisiana a Democratic governor and legislature were elected 
through a war to the knife struggle between Warmoth and Kel- 
logg, leaders of the rival factions of their party. In Arkansas 
a liberal Republican, Brooks, had been elected governor through 
the same influence — radical dissensions. In both states the re- 
sult was annulled by Federal troops — with blind and brutal des- 
potism President Grant ordered the military commanders to up- 
hold the defeated candidates. The event in Louisiana was sig- 
nalized by the most despotic and infamous abuse of authority of 
which a Federal court was ever guilty — the famous ''midnight 
order" of the drunken and disreputable Judge Durell. This 
directed the United States marshal, Packard, to take possession 
of the state house, or in fact the state government. With a bat- 
talion of United States troops, the order was executed between 
midnight and dawn — the building being so held for two months. 
To plead for justice and peace a delegation of 100 leading and 
non-partisan citizens of the state, headed by ex-Justice Camp- 
bell of the United States supreme court, was sent to Washington. 
Advised of their coming, Grant's brutal and south-hating At- 
torney General, George H. Williams, wired the chairman as fol- 
lows : "Your visit with 100 citizens will be unavailing so far as 
the president is concerned. His decision is made and will not 
be changed. The sooner it is acquiesced in, the sooner good or- 
der and peace is restored." 

Not willing to take such a decision as final from any other 
mouth than the President's, the committee proceeded to Wash- 
ington and had its audience, which, was chilling and without 

440 Mississippi Historical Society. 

show of courtesy. The following account of the incident was 
published at the time. 

"By special favor they were admitted into the President's 
room. As they entered they were received by the Attorney Gen- 
eral with slack courtesy and ominous scowl. They were ob- 
structed in their advance to the President by this churlish official, 
who stopped to chat and exchange some jocular remarks with 
certain Bohemians of the radical press who were skirmishing 
around. Finally, however, the committee was introduced to his 
excellency, who made a very scant bow, and coldly shook hands 
with the members. Then Judge Campbell, with impressive so- 
lemnity and great clearness, stated the objects of their mission, 
with characteristic force and distinctness presented the case of 
our people and state. The President listened in a cold and in- 
different style and when Judge Campbell ceased he proceeded 
to give the answers which are already known to the world. They 
were given in the style of a boy reciting a speech committed to 
memory, and which sounded very much as if read from manu- 
script. Judge Campbell replied in his solemn and impressive 
manner. As he warmed up with the recital of the wrongs of 
our people and the great dangers threatening them, tears rose 
in the eyes of the venerable jurist and patriot. During his elo- 
quent remonstrance the President never raised his eyes from the 
floor nor looked in the faces of the speaker and committee. It 
was all in vain. The impassive high official was unmoved by the 
piteous narrative — and all the while the Attorney General scowled 
on the body of citizens as if they were so many intruders and 
felons, who, not being politicians and office-seekers, jobbers and 
contractors, had no business in that place and presence. And 
thus, never were citizens repelled from the presidential mansion 
with more discourtesy, or ever departed therefrom with deeper 
humiliation, than the committee of our best citizens, after pre- 
senting to the chief magistrate the humble prayer, that he should 
use his great power to protect them in their sacred rights of 
American citizens." 

Seeking to avert utter despair the committee thus toned down 
the result of their mission in a report to the people of Louisiana: 

War and Reconstruction in Mississippi — McNeily. 441 

"We have the assurance of both the President and his Attorney 
General that an investigation by Congress will meet with no op- 
position from the administration. The President, while main- 
taining the propriety of the course he has pursued, has not pro- 
fessed to consider this action as finally decisive of the vital ques- 
tions at issue in the politics of